It’s that time, readers. It’s time to assess where we’ve been, where we’ve gone wrong, where we’ve gone astray, and where we’ve failed; and to figure out and commit to a way forward, a way to get back on track, a way to improve our lot in life. Yep, it’s the new year, only a day and a few hours old.

I listened to Justin Whitmel Earley on The Habit podcast this morning, and he was talking about habits, daily and weekly. One thought that stuck with me is that habits help us to become free. Freedom doesn’t mean we can do whatever we like, but it means living the way we were created to live.

I need to develop some good habits this year, and the best place to start is with the habits of my heart. So I committed—again—to investing quality time into spiritual practices: scripture, prayer, worship, gratitude, service, etc.

Last year, I joined a couple of my church folks and used the Navigators Bible reading plan. This year, I’ve settled on the Five Day plan from Lower Lights. It’s an interesting format, somewhat chronological.

“Let’s do this, Lord!” I said. And then it hit me suddenly. There really is a Resistance to doing what you know is right and necessary and helpful. That Resistance for me, comes from two distinct dangers.

One is the danger of Distraction. As I started to find the document with the Bible reading plan, I thought for a moment about a quote from the earlier podcast. “Wait,” I said. “I need to get that quote in my head because it will help me as I think about this new old habit. I opened the podcast page on my computer. While I was there, I noticed I only had four minutes left in this particular episode. So I hit the play button and listened to the end. I wrote some notes in my notebook, and started to close out the podcast app and get to my Bible reading.

But there on the podcast episode page were some recommendations for other podcasts I might like. I clicked on one, and as I began to read about the host, I navigated to her website and started looking through the content there. But that wasn’t all. I thought about the design of the website and how I liked the font choices and the layout. So I started trying to find the fonts. And as usually happens for a guy who loves typography,   I started down the rabbit hole of fonts. I didn’t find the exact matches but I did find some I liked and noted for future use.

That’s not the point. The point is I was distracted from what I had intended to do: start a fresh reading plan. Of course, the fonts were not bad things. But they were distractions that kept me from the main thing. In our world, distraction is all around, and it fights our best intentions and keeps us from the parts of life that make it abundant.

But the other danger I faced this morning is the danger of Familiarity. The reading plan starts on Day 1 with Genesis 1–2, Psalm 19, and Mark 1. Having read and studied the Bible as a “professional” for all these years, it’s hard to avoid the “yeah, yeah…I know that already” attitude. It’s as though I said to God, “Give me something new and stop boring me with the basics that I already know.” Wow! What an attitude!

They say familiarity breeds contempt, but more insidious than contempt is apathy. Apathy may not be the best word here, but it’s all I can come up with. Just because we’ve read the words hundreds of times doesn’t mean the words have done their work in our hearts. I know the creation account in Genesis. I know the heavens declare the glory of God and that His words, laws, and precepts are good, corrective, and restorative. I know I need His activity to keep me from sin and make my words and thoughts acceptable. I know Jesus started His ministry, was baptized by John, called his disciples, healed people, and all that. I know all that.

But knowing all that sometimes blocks the power of all that. I need to guard against the apathy of familiarity, and see the Lord’s work as real and active.