Due to vitamin D deficiency and to help my circadian rhythm, I've been making an effort to recline in the sun for 15-20 minutes on a regular basis. My regular sun exposure has brought about something foreign and unfamiliar to me - a tan.
Because of my fair skin and impatience, I'm not really into tanning. The only time I've been remotely tan has been on childhood vacations, and even then it was more of a quick burn. However, the tan I have now reflects a build-up of multiple short sun exposures since April. It is an outward reflection of daily discipline.
It occurred to me as I was baking in my outdoor recliner today that my regular sun time had gradually changed my outward appearance just like my daily devotions gradually change my inner-self.
Making an effort to read the Bible consistently has been a struggle for me most of my life. I would get very enthusiastic and motivated, read a lot over a period of days or weeks, and then eventually slip back into sporadic reading, feeling like it wasn't making a noticeable difference.
If there's one thing I've learned from sun exposure this summer, it's that it is not the one 20-minute period that makes a noticeable difference; it is the entire collection of those repeated times that changes me. When I am in a habit of reading God's Word and praying regularly, one devotion may not create a profound impact on my thinking for that particular day, but the habit is what keeps me walking in step with God, repenting quickly when I stumble, and receiving his forgiveness and strength to keep going.
Dr. Charles Stanley once compared our life in this world to a boat on a river with a strong current. If the boat's rope is not tightened securely each morning to the dock, it will eventually drift away down the river and over the waterfall. This world is just like that current - an ever-present force working on our minds and hearts to lull us into going along without God and relying on ourselves to make it through life, ultimately to our ruin. The truth is, if our souls are not anchored to Christ, we will passively slip downstream, away from God.
I'm learning now more than ever how powerful daily habits can be. Negative daily habits can destroy us, while positive habits like prayer and Bible study will gradually change our lives for the better. Never give into the feeling that daily prayers and Bible reading don't make a difference. No matter the trials, distractions, failures, and suffering that may tend to deter you from your discipline, daily "Son exposure" gradually transforms your soul and keeps you firmly anchored to God, our Rock and our Redeemer.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)