The particular Dailyness of the Dishes—and a Habit Called Faith
Jen Pollock Michel was 16 when she began following Jesus. Someone told her after that about the importance of the habit associated with daily Bible reading. 30 years (and five kids) later, she wishes the girl could thank them for his or her wise advice. In her fourth book, A Routine Called Faith, she invites both the persuaded and the curious into a 40-day habit of reading the Bible to find and follow Jesus. Jen takes readers through the wild, unfamiliar landscape of Deuteronomy into the Gospel of Steve to explore exactly how faith, small as a mustard seed, might grow right into a life-defining habit. It’ s a elegance to welcome Jen towards the farm’ s front porch today…
guest post by Jen Pollock Michel
B efore the pandemic upended life—spinning it, stilling this, setting it on its head—it was my job, every morning, to sell the dishwasher. I’d pad downstairs, make coffee, and place the kitchen to rights. It had been just enough time to clear the fog before meeting with God.
With everyone working and listening to advice from home these last a lot of months, our household responsibilities are more equally shared between seven of us. Dishwasher duty has become one twin son’s responsibility. Most days he’s dutiful about the chore. Yet sometimes I’ll find him, nose buried in a guide, scowling in the corner of the family room.
He’s discovered the unrelenting dailyness of the dishes.
“You’re learning something about faithfulness, ” We told Andrew a couple of days ago when a storm brewed on his face.
“Faithfulness is built at the ordinary things we do faithfully every day. ” I wanted him to know something about life—but I also wanted him to know some thing about faith.
Our life, concealed with Christ in God, has as much to do with behavior as it does with epiphanies.
Faith is built by repetitive motion.
In the book associated with Deuteronomy, Moses reminded Israel that they had a habit of forgetting The almighty , and he constantly commanded them to “remember. ” Be careful, Moses commanded, to remember God’s sophistication once the wilderness is behind you. Otherwise, the blessings of the land you’re set to inherit might become a problem.
When life is moving placidly along, once the diagnosis is negative and the mortgage is paid, we are easily lulled into behavior of self-reliance and self-congratulations. Without clouds in the sky, we are given to forgetting that every ray of sunlight, every hint of springtime is a gift from the Originator and Sustainer God.
The human habit is to forget God. This is why Moses provided a means for remembering, a practice that is still in force today in Jewish synagogues and homes around the world. It was the twice daily recitation of the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall like the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ”
Rehearsed like lines from a play, these words from Deuteronomy 6: 5-8 reminded people of who God had been and what their obligations in order to Him were. God was a God of rescue, and their obedience to Him was offered as a response of adore.
The particular Shema had none of the particular stiff formality of class room learning. It demanded simply no emotional hype. It was a good education woven in the sound of the ordinary and the movement of the everyday: as moms and dads talked to children on the house and on the way, using their waking until their sleeping. The Shema was a habit of remembering for God’s habitually forgetful people.
The Shema had all the dailyness of the dishes.
In the Gospel associated with John, like the Book associated with Deuteronomy, we’re reminded to help keep at the repetitive motion—or the habit—of faith.
As John shuts his book, he points out his purpose for composing: “These are written so you may believe that Jesus will be the Christ, the Son of God, and that by assuming you may have life in his name, ” (John 20: 31). In the Greek manuscripts, “believe” can be understood as “come to believe” or “continue to believe. ” This is to say that belief is a journey to begin—and a road to keep touring.
We must turn to God as often as we turn towards the dishes.
In my personal life of faith, everyday Bible reading has been a keystone habit for continuing in belief—one small practice effecting incremental, if also amazing, change. I’m not as faithful as I’d like to maintain studying or memorizing the Bible, and I find myself far more forgetful in center age, struggling to recall references to familiar pathways learned long ago. Still, the majority of mornings, before the sun rises, I can be found sitting within an armchair in my living room, drinking the words of Scripture.
I’ll be honest to say that there are days—and strings of days—when I seem to be impervious to God’s words. They sit on my skin like glistening drops of water, and am feel myself disinterested, distracted by the errant jogger We glimpse from the front home window.
But there are other days, not altogether rare, when I hold audience with the Creator of the universe—or rather, He holds audience beside me.
Stilled, I become “the tree grown by water, that discharges its roots by the flow, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not stressed in the year of drought, for it does not cease to deal with fruit” (Jer. 17: 8).
I am learning to trust; however I might feel on any given day, that this daily habit of faith is rooting myself deep.
Jen Pollock Michel is the award-winning author associated with Surprised by Paradox, Keeping Place, and Teach Us to Want as well as the recently launched book, A Habit Called Faith: Forty Days within the Bible to Find and Stick to Jesus. She’s an American author living in Toronto with her husband and children.
A Routine Called Faith is a 40-day Bible reading experience for the convinced and the curious. It strongly translates ancient truths of faith for a secular age group, inviting readers to see, know, live, love, and follow. The daily reflection queries and weekly discussion manuals invite both individuals and groups, believers and doubters alike, to explore how belief, even faith as small as the mustard seed, might grow into a life-defining habit.
Today’ h neurological research has placed routine at the center of human behavior; we are what we do repetitively. Whenever we want to add something to the life, whether it’ ersus exercise, prayer, or just getting up earlier in the morning, we know that we have to turn an activity into a habit through repetition or it just won’ t stick. What would happen if we applied the same type of daily dedication to belief? Could faith become a routine, a given– automatic?
So well done and needed today: A Habit Called Faith, invites both the convinced and the curious into a 40-day habit of reading the particular Bible to find and follow Jesus.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]