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The calendar has just changed to August which means that summer vacation is done and my children have started back to school. Where have the last few months gone? It seems that we were just celebrating the ending of another school year and looking forward to all of the wonderful adventures of summer. We had dreams of all the great things we would do this summer. How did the time go so quickly? How did May quickly become June and then July and now August? I’m sure if we checked scientifically we would see that time has not sped up, instead, we were apart of every second, every minute, every day. Yet it seems that time has moved on and the freedom of summer is no more. Now it’s time for assignments and tests in reading, spelling, and math.

I don’t want to make it sound like summer wasn’t great, because it was. We’ve made a lot of great memories together as a family this summer. We’ve gone on mini-vacations and enjoyed just playing together. Bedtime has been extended and we’ve filled the time with reading, movies, and laughter. It has been a joy.

But the changing of the calendar and the start of a new school year is a reminder that time marches on; often faster than we want. If we aren’t careful, a few months will pass by without even stopping to notice. A few months will soon become a year, and then a couple of years. Before we know it, life has happened. And in this ever continuing passage of time, one question that we need to ask is, are we changing? Are we maturing? Are we being transformed into the image of Christ? More importantly for the present moment, as the summer holiday comes to an end and the school year is upon us, have I done anything to grow closer to God this summer? Am I going to do something to grow closer to God this year?

Often, when someone is trying to get in better shape, whether eating right, exercising, making healthier decisions, the difficulty is not in the first few days. Most people start strong with healthy living habits. The problems begin in a week or two weeks when the excitement of starting something new fades, and the reality of trying to make a change happens. Will one be disciplined enough to continue the process?

I’ve had three different times in my life when I’ve started training for a half marathon. Each time I started out strong, however the first two times ended quickly. I didn’t have the discipline to make the life changes necessary in order to change. When I started the third time I was determined not to fail. I decided, 5:00 am, three days a week, I was running. It was grueling at times. There were many days when I didn’t want to get up and I tried to make excuses. Still, I got up and ran. And when I ran across the finish line, meeting all of my goals for the race, it was worth it. I had accomplished something, not because of that day, but because of all of the days for six months leading up to the race.

The same is true for growing spiritually. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen in a day. It is a long, grueling process at times. Often, change is not evident. Yet it is the continual practice of going through the disciplines that causes change in our lives. It is the decision to say I’m going to wake up every morning and read my bible, I’m going to spend ten minutes a day in silence, I’m going to set an alarm and pray the Lord’s Prayer every day at noon, that allows growth to occur. It’s finding a rhythm and keeping that rhythm over time that allows you to be transformed from one degree of glory to another. There is no magic pill. Instead it is the slow steady rhythm of the disciplines that allows the Spirit to mold us into the image of Christ.

Time passes too quickly. We recognize it when summer break ends or when we look at old pictures of our children and try to figure out how they’ve gotten so big. Instead of depressing us, hopefully this truth will remind us that if we want to grow spiritually we must have intentionality. We must develop a daily rhythm. Disciplines, everyday, over time, will lead to growth. Take some time today to schedule some manageable disciplines. Develop a rhythm and stick to it. And just as time passes without us knowing it, you will wake up one day and realize these daily rhythms have changed your life. The Spirit has used these continual practices to mold you into the image of Christ, for the sake of the world.