I am referring, of course, to Gene Autry’s signature classic: "Back in the Saddle Again". And although he was not the first to record it, Autry’s version of it, way back in 1939, became a gold record!
Perhaps you are familiar with the lyrics:
I'm back in the saddle again…
Out where a friend is a friend…
Where the longhorn cattle feed…
On the lowly jimson weed…
I'm back in the saddle again!
Now that this little ditty is stuck in your head, I’ll get to my point. As the holidays come to an end, and as the month of January unfolds, most of us find ourselves getting back in the saddle! We return to our routine, to our day in and day out and week in and week out cycle of existence.
Not everyone looks forward to this. For some, the mind-numbing boredom such a routine portends is almost unbearable. Others dread it less for the monotony and more for the sense that they are trapped. More fearful than bored, they feel that they are wasting precious time and opportunity in this, that, or the other repetitious pursuit, always busy but never actually accomplishing very much.
And yet, I would suggest that the discipline of a routine is the very essence of accomplishment and fulfillment in life! Consider what the Bible has to say about the importance of having a routine in the lives of three key figures:
Of Daniel, the Bible says:
“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously….” (Daniel 6:10 ESV)
Of Paul, it says:
“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures…” (Acts 17:2 ESV)
And of Jesus, Himself, the Scriptures say:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read…” (Luke 4:16 ESV)
Daniel, Paul, and Jesus all appeared to have gotten in the saddle and stayed there! They each developed routine behaviors that were beneficial to them and also to those they encountered. Among these routine behaviors were praying, attending services at the Lord’s house, and discussing their faith with others. Having developed them, they obviously persisted. And God used these things to give them repeated victories in their lives.
In the same way, I challenge you to consider that most of our own victories in life will come about in and by the daily routines we develop and maintain in the coming year. One of the most decorated athletes of ancient Greece was Milo of Croton. He was not a mythological individual like Hercules, but rather a real man noted for his many victories in the various Greek games.
He was said to have developed his great strength by lifting a newborn calf and carrying it a certain distance and then setting it down. He then repeated this exact same feat day in and day out as the calf matured into a full grown bull. As the days passed and turned into years, the bull grew heavier and heavier. And so did Milo’s strength and stamina as a result!
Similarly, individuals like Daniel, Paul, and Jesus all possessed great spiritual strength and stamina that gave them many spiritual victories. This was doubtless due to the fact that they each pursued a daily routine of spiritual nurture and exercise. And the same can be true for us.
So, my friend, as 2019 unfolds, why not commit to developing and maintaining some essential daily routines? Do this in all areas of your life – but especially the spiritual. And then, slowly but surely, as the minutes tick by, and as the hours become days, and as these become weeks, you will doubtless become stronger and better at all you undertake to do. You will most likely experience more and more daily victorious as well!
Who knows? Before long, perhaps, it might even be said of you as it was of individuals like Daniel and Paul and, above all, Jesus: “such was his custom”!