Published January 19, 2010

Shelia Shares....
"Patterns & Habits"

This past week the famous Pennsylvania State Farm Show was underway in Harrisburg. It's the largest indoor agricultural event in America — a showcase of the best of Pennsylvania agriculture featuring products, farm equipment and livestock. The Farm Show provides a showplace for farmers to see the most up-to-date farm equipment, farming practices and farming needs while providing the non-farmers with an educational showcase to learn about agriculture and how the products they consume are harvested and/or processed.

Part of the fun is watching the judging of various contests. State Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding was asked to judge the chocolate cake baking contest. He told an interviewer it was his first judging experience and he learned so much doing it. The judge sitting beside him was a former winner in many different baking categories and gave him this advice — judge each piece of cake the very same way. If you start with the icing, always start with the icing. If you start in the middle of the cake, always start in the middle of the cake.

Mr. Redding said that was excellent advice and he started at the same spot on each plate that he judged. He tasted the icing for flavor and texture, then the first layer and then worked down to the filling. By doing this, he could judge each piece of cake in the same way.

Not only in cake judging, but also in life, there is something to be said about following a pattern. Our pattern for life is following Christ, walking in His footsteps — not deviating from the pattern He has set before us.

Following a pattern can help us be consistent. We aren't flying from project to project and from thought to thought. Patterns are important in helping us to complete things, rather than doing ten projects at once and getting none of them completed (a common problem).

The same pattern followed over and over becomes a habit. If we daily read the scriptures and pray at a particular time, it soon becomes habit. When we miss a day, we feel like we have missed something important in our day. And, indeed, we have. Sometimes going to church on Sunday can be a habit, but it is a habit that we don't want to break.

The 18th century poet Samuel Johnson put it this way: "The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." Let's make sure the habits — the lifestyle patterns — that we cultivate are the beneficial ones we want to keep, and which would be pleasing to Christ.

- Shelia

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