The way you start out is the way you'll continue. It's hard to change.
For several years we have been living in government housing because as teachers we can get subsidised rent in the country. It's great to have such affordable living, and we were happy to compromise on the quality. We can overlook stains on the carpet, faulty plumbing and other little defects because it's so cheap.
Plus it also temporary. We were in the process of building our own band new house, so we were saving all the newness and the care for that. We stuck with our $10 garage sale couches because we knew we were going to be getting brand new ones eventually.
But we also didn't worry about taking too much care with the old stuff. It didn't matter if it got marks or scuffs. What's one more stain on the already dirty carpet. What does it matter if we go a bit longer between vacuuming or washing the floor. And forget working hard in the garden, or washing the windows regularly at all. We weren't careless, but we didn't give it the same level of care and diligence that we might a new house, or a house that was our own.
The problem is that for three years now, we have got into lazy habits. Now we have our own brand new house and we expect the care and perfect housekeeping to just switch back on automatically. We work hard on keeping our new house as new as possible, but it's difficult now. We're not used to it. And this house is bigger, and it's all very white and clean. It's an effort to relearn all the habits that we let slip away.
We treat lots of things in our lives like that. Not least of all our spiritual lives.
'God's not using me for anything much now, my life is only small, so I'm not going to worry about trying to hard or reading my bible that often. I'll do that once things start happening.'
The problem is, once things start happening you don't have the same amount of time. You have to play catch up on a steep learning curve. And sometimes you can't catch up. Everything suddenly gets a lot bigger and lot more critical, and you aren't equipped to deal with it.
But imagine if you had been using that small time of life to prepare for the big stuff? It would be a much easier transition.
It's like wanting to go to uni, so deciding you don't need to pay attention in school before hand. School is not your goal, uni is. So you'll start learning once you get there.
You wouldn't do this because it's ludicrous. You know that you need to take all the steps leading up to it, and there's a lot of knowledge and skills you need before you could possibly handle university.
With a house it's not so critical. We'll have to discipline ourselves a bit, and work a bit harder to re-form some good habits, but it's achievable. The dirt shows up a lot easier in a white house. We'll have to clean it.
But in your life, and your relationship with God - there are no quick fixes. If you haven't built any foundation, it's like trying to go straight from kindergarten to university. Even if you're a child prodigy, you've still got to put in the work. If you don't build the good habits now, and show you can be trusted with a little, then how can you be trusted with much? How will you cope when God really calls you into action?
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. Luke 16:10
Even if you think your life is small and unimportant now, why not practise for the time when it grows? Because God will grow it, if you let him. Probably your life is already more important and influential than you realise. As soon as you became a Christian, you became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) - whether you feel like it yet or not. You already have the new house - look after it!
Don't stick with the $10 couches of your soul or neglect the stains on the carpet of your heart just because you think it doesn't matter or it's temporary, or that you'll deal with it when you need to. Get yourself ready!
We are always in training, even if God hasn't told you exactly what you are training for yet; if nothing else, the ultimate prize of we are fighting for is an eternal relationship with God.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26