What would you say to a friend who asked you for advice about making tough decisions in life? Or everyday decisions, for that matter. What do you say to someone who wants guidance, reassurance, direction, comfort? Think about that for a minute before you read further.
For a long time I have been seeking to grow - spiritually, socially, as a parent and homescooler, as a friend, etc. I think I have chosen many good ways to seek out growth. Online research, Bible study groups, attending church, and spending time with others who aspire to or exemplify the traits or skills I admire. Isn't this the way to grow, to blossom, even? Yes, it can be. All of these "good" activities and methods can be very helpful. But they are not the first or most essential part of growth or guidance. There is one important element that is not listed here.
For a Christian, the most essential way to grow is to seek guidance, reassurance, direction, and comfort from the One who knows us best. Unless you do that, the rest becomes merely fluff.
This is the message my own life has taught me lately. I pray to God. Sometimes I journal. I read my Bible daily. (most of the time) But I have been unable to Be Still And Know That He Is God. Partially because of schedule commitments, but mostly because of my own lack of..... hmmm..... discipline? commitment? faith?
I've been trying to do all of the above EXCEPT the one most essential. I don't know why I've been trying to get around true, honest time to get quiet before my Lord. I give to missions, I volunteer, I'm a good person...... "SShhhhhh......" I'm at church every Sunday, I'm devoted to my family.... "SShhhhh......" I... I... I... "SShhhhhh......"
The problem is that I'm trying to be good enough. Rather, I'm trying to DO good enough. But that's not what God requires of me first and foremost. He wants me to BE QUIET. Be still. Let Him lead.
How did you answer the questions in the first paragraph? Did you think of a good book to suggest? A person who might be helpful? An organization? Did you think about GOD? Practical help and encouragement is important. Hands on service is vital. But don't forget about prayer. Don't forget that quiet time to connect with God, to receive the love He gave to us through His Son, Jesus, should always be central in our lives.
When these things get out of order, the "good" can become painful or ineffective. If you keep the first thing first, the rest becomes a joyful bonus.