When a routine becomes a rut …

A farmer once observed, “The hardest thing about milking cows is that they never stay milked.”

It’s an insightful comment that can be applied to life in various ways. There’s a lot of our living that doesn’t stay done, but requires a persistence from us. These things become some of the routines in our lives.

Routines have their benefits. They help us make sure that we’re doing what we should be doing, when we should be doing it.

But routines don’t guarantee that what we’re doing is being done the way it should be, or with the right motive.

Routines can have their down-side when we allow our familiarity of the important things in life to become little more than routine actions that we’ve gutted from purpose and relevance, from thoughtfulness and feeling.

I saw this evidenced while visiting with a pastor of a church that wasn’t making disciples. The good thing was that the leadership team of this church had been convicted about being a congregation that was not sharing the Gospel with the lost. But when launching into discussion about how to go about changing to become a church of disciples who make disciples, the pastor immediately started pushing back. He reverted to the routines of ministry, and any suggestion of disrupting those long-established routines was met with resistance.

This pastor had made ministry so routine it had become a rut for him.

Do you know the old description of what a rut is? It’s just a grave with the ends kicked out.

Jesus spoke directly and powerfully to those who have made living out their faith so routine that they are now in a rut …

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16.

Although God is always with us, the presence of God in our lives was never intended to be a routine thing. Although there is nowhere you can go to escape God, interacting with Him requires a persistent desire on our part …

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me,” Jeremiah 29:13.

It’s like the husband and wife whose marriage has become routine. They go through all the same old motions every day, but their hearts are no longer engaged with each other. They’ve allowed the routines of life to put them into a rut.

To keep purpose and passion alive in our faith, we need one another. The Apostle Peter demonstrates this by reminding us of the truth …

“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things — even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep reminding you as long as I live,” 2 Peter 1:12-13.

The writer of Hebrews urges us to keep one another stirred up …

“Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God,” Hebrews 3:12-13.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near,” Hebrews 10:24-25.

By encouraging and “stirring” one another, we can keep good routines in our lives without allowing them to become ruts. We can persevere with purpose, keeping our eyes on the ultimate goal …

“For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ,” Hebrews 3:14.

Has life become so routine for you that you’re now in a rut? What are you doing to keep your faith fresh? What are you doing to encourage others in the routines of their faith?