It's humbling when someone does something better than you at first attempt than you have in your entire life. After finishing Crime and Punishment, a very good but very Russian book, I went to Barnes and Noble to find my next read. Since Dostoevsky's was a very heavy book I decided some humor would be nice; I took home The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs took on the task of living according to biblical law for a year -- the first 8 months adhering to the Old Testament law and the last 4 months following the New Testament.
He was constantly discussing the difference between taking the bible completely literally or acknowledging metaphoric and symbolic content. He spent 4 weeks before his year started reading the bible cover to cover, notating any rules along the way (quite the feat in and of itself). Then he began his journey. Not a religious man in general, this project took over his entire life. He began praying everyday, eventually 3 times a day. He acknowledged menstruation laws that denied him access to his wife even in any physical capacity. He even grew out his hair to biblical standards.
His year was an incredible one of learning and submitting. As I read I became more and more aware of my lack of commitment. I go to church and try to read my bible, when I remember to I pray, I try to help others, but as I look on my cross-bearing days I feel as though I half-assed it. Of course, I have to acknowledge a litany of factors: Jacobs was being paid to attempt this, his was a year-long journey not a lifelong, etc. I get that. But do I monitor the words that come out of my mouth? Do I only speak truth? Do I give God the time or commitment he deserves? I could keep going. I am humbled.
For all you mercy lovers I know what you're thinking, "You cannot work your way into heaven." And you're right. But I always remember James, "I will show you my faith by what I do." Needless to say, this book got me thinking and hopefully I act on what I've learned. Don't worry I won't be stoning any adulterers or deviant children. But I do think that God deserves more than what I've been giving him. Living out faith religiously always gets a bad rap. I've always thought, though, that there is beauty in the familiar and strength in repetition.