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It is June already, and I am on Day 46 of my Bible reading plan when I should be on Day 127. I have missed my goal by 81 days.

I don’t know about you, but I have lost count of the number of times I have set a goal and failed to carry it through. Several days ago, I intended to finish folding laundry. I have yet to take the clothes out from the dryer. I wanted to defrost the chicken and marinate it so when I got home I could easily pop it in the oven. I got as far as opening the freezer to take the chicken out, but I needed to rearrange stuff to reach the chicken, and by the time I was done rearranging, I needed to race out the door, but the chicken was still in the freezer. On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up vegetables to go with the chicken. I remembered I also needed bacon and eggs for breakfast. When I got home, I had everything, except the vegetables for the chicken.

Isn’t this just like life? We make goals with deadlines, but often something else competes with those goals, and before we know it, we are overtaken by those other things. We come up with a to-do list and write it down, but it has to compete with the one we have in our minds. We think one thing, but we end up doing something else.

Paul struggled with a similar issue. In Romans 7:18b, he said this about keeping up with the Law: “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” Paul struggled with keeping up with his to-do list as far as the Law was concerned. He had the desire, but not the ability to do it. Paul realized the solution to his dilemma was in his relationship with Christ. Paul helps us see the truth that we can desire all we want, but on our own, we are incapable of accomplishing our desires.

Going back to the basics of our personal relationship with Christ is key. While it is important to keep up with our Bible reading plan, while it helps to have the laundry folded on time, and while it is necessary to get that chicken out of the freezer and marinate it and get it ready for the oven and get the vegetables to go with it, where we begin makes all the difference.

Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). Jesus said these words to His disciples as He prepared to leave them. He knew, even good things would compete with their time, and they would need to choose. But the one thing they could not compromise was their personal relationship with Christ. They needed to abide in Him if they were going to bear fruit in all areas of their lives.

So is it with us—our responsibility is to abide in Christ. We read the Bible, not to quickly finish, but to find God in those pages. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, He teaches us how to pace ourselves. We plan our days, take care of our homes and our families, and when things don’t turn out the way we planned, we must continue to focus on abiding in Christ.

How about you? How is your personal relationship with God? Have you come to the place of abiding, where you know that it is not how much you accomplish, but how dependent you are on God as you go deep with Him? Are you more concerned about checking the box or making the deadline, or are you first seeking to grow your intimacy with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Laundry, frozen chicken, and to-do lists have value, but abiding in Christ is vital.