The pathway of Habit is worn smooth by repetition; it takes no effort or thought to travel down this way. It detours me away from the goal I claim to desire, offering immediate relief to the angst in my inner being. It poses as a channel for my restlessness. I hate it. But Change has an anxiety of its own and Its payoff flirts elusively from around the bend ahead, in the future. And so, I slide along.
But then I read about Esau, “who sold his birthright for a single meal” (Hebrews 12:16; Genesis 25:29-34). He lost his future because he wanted – no, he needed – immediate relief from his hunger. He’d been out all day. He was tired. He wanted to escape his discomfort – now. But afterward, when he was ready to claim his birthright, it was not his to claim. He’d sold his future; in fact, it says in Genesis that he had despised his birthright. He had esteemed his immediate discomfort more than his future well-being.
That’s the way of Habit. It despises well-being as it clamors for immediate relief. It is like the old saying, the Good drives out the Best. It was not bad that Esau was hungry and tired. He’d worked hard all day. But he became impatient when he smelled the aroma of his brother’s stew and let himself stray from the path to his own tent to that of his brother. He didn’t pause to count the cost; the cost was intangible in the moment, further down the path than he felt he had the energy for.
How odd it is that peace is something that must be fought for; it must be won. And how powerless I feel in the moment of Habit’s ease and promised relief. The battle seems too hard. Wouldn’t that cookie make me feel so much better? Often, I don’t even know what is driving me, what the angst is that would send me off on the path away from true well-being. That’s the nature of Habit; it’s mindless.
I’m sorry for Esau. But I’m glad for his experience being recorded. It gives me something to grab when I start sliding along the path of Habit. It reminds me that God has plans for me to prosper! He’s given me hope for the future through the example of Christ, “who for the joy set before him, endured the cross”, who despised the pain in esteem for a glorious future (Hebrews 12:2). He promises peace when I give my mind (and my angst) to Him (Isaiah 26:3-4) instead of letting Habit have its mindless way.
I’m so grateful God has my well-being at heart, that He’s right behind me saying, “This is the way; walk in it (Isaiah 30:21). Don’t sell your future for a measly bite of Habit! Feast on Me instead”.
Hebrews 12:1-2 … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Isaiah 26:3-4 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the Plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”