The Isaiah Principle aka how I learnt an unhurried way to achieving goals in a hurried world…

I first used the Isaiah Principle to lose weight – 8 years ago. Back then I managed to lose 3 stone, in a year, by applying this simple principle that we find in the Bible in Isaiah. I am sure that you will have read the verse as applied to learning God’s laws and word, but I can testify that it really can apply to all kinds of other things we want to learn and achieve in life.

For it is precept upon precept
Precept upon precept,
Line upon line,
Line upon line,
Here a little, there a little. – Isaiah 28:10

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With losing weight it was straightforward. I began with one small change – swapping water instead of sugary squash and I weighed myself once a week. If I was still losing weight, I kept on as I was, and if I had stopped losing weight, I made another small change. Because I only made one small change at a time, I hardly noticed it and it just became part of my life. I found then, and now, that people tend to scoff at the idea of small changes and beginnings. Actually, God’s word even addresses this in Zechariah 4:10, when the Israelites began rebuilding the Temple – “Do not despise these small beginnings for the eyes of the Lord delight to see the work begin” (the Living Bible).

Just like the Israelites back in Zechariah’s day, we can be tempted to dwell on the mountain we have to climb and not believe we could ever reach the top, but in the same way those Israelites began the humble, slow process of rebuilding the temple, I have found if I can just find a way to begin and keep going, I will get there in the end.

Over a year ago, I found myself standing at the foot of a rather large metaphorical mountain. I am really blessed by the ministry of Sally Clarkson and at that time, after reading her book Own Your Life, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit of two things. One was that my time with God was very inconsistent, even though I agree with Emilie Barnes that “A regular quiet time with God is as important and necessary as sleep or exercise or food.” And Secondly, I spent very little time nourishing my own soul and spirit in any other ways. It really rang true to me when Sally stated that you can only pour out, what you pour in.

I loved the vision Sally had given me for being “the kind of resource that when my husband and children come to me they find truth, beauty, goodness and love” and I prayed, and God brought back to my mind that way I had lost weight all those years ago and reminded me of our own memorising programme. My husband and I are keen for our children to be great thinkers and with this in mind, we want for them to memorise scriptures, poetry, sayings and latin prayers etc. The way we have approached this, very much follows the Isaiah Principle. I keep a basket on the Dining Table, with a Bible in it, some prayer resources and index cards with things we want to memorise written on them. Most days, after lunch, we read and talk about some scripture and pray and then we read through one of the items we are memorising. We make it fun too by making up little actions to go along. We also have a great resource by the Worship Seeds, which puts many of the scriptures to music, so we sometimes sing them. We truly only spend a couple of minutes on this each day, yet have amassed quite a large amount of material we have memorised.

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Could I use this same principle for quiet times? Like our Bible basket, I collected together everything I wanted for my quiet time (total misnomer, but I hope that if I keep calling it the ‘quiet time’ my children will get the hint and be quiet!). I also found myself an accountability programme – #coffeewiththeking (where I posted a picture to Instagram each day to record doing my quiet time). Then every day, I would look for an opportunity, usually while my baby napped, and I would have an activity ready for the other children to do and then immediately do my quiet time for at least 5 minutes. I noticed that as I sought to prioritise that time with God over everything else, God honoured my efforts. I began to notice the difference on those odd days where I didn’t make time, how much more frazzled I was and so, even on the busiest days, I make sure as a minimum I read a verse and if I can, copy it out to look at through the rest of the day. Also, my children and husband noticed the difference in me. Looking back over the past year, I can see how I have changed, although like everyone I have a long way to go and I love Sally’s reminder that we are working towards ideals, but living in reality!

As I found this worked, I decided to follow the same principle for getting nourishment for my soul and spirit. At the time, my baby didn’t sleep until late in the evenings, so I did not have any time to myself then. So, first I got myself ready to start projects. I put everything I needed for each project in its own bag and placed the bags in a safe place where I could reach them quickly (but little ones could not). I found that crochet works particularly well for me, as long as I choose a simple pattern that I can pick up and put down. The children might be out in the garden playing and I would grab my project or pick up a book to read) and spend what time I could get. Often this was literally just 5 minutes. Maybe I only got to sew in 2 ends on my crochet project, or begin a sketch or read a page. Yes, it was frustratingly slow, but I was still making progress! Sometimes, I got much longer before I was needed, or I needed to go and complete a chore.

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I also noticed a side benefit to my children seeing what I enjoy and am passionate about (in addition to them, daddy and Jesus.) Both my eldest girls have also learned to knit and crochet and my younger daughter to sew and there is something very special about all of us crafting together. I notice when I have been painting in my art journal, my children will then go and get their art things out and create. I also know that when my children see me reading for enjoyment, this encourages them to read too. It blesses me to know that I inspire them.

I have also continued to use the Isaiah principle to achieve all sorts of other goals. Recently we bought my middle daughter the set of Little House on the Prairie books for Christmas and I was desperate to read them with her, but I just couldn’t see when to do it. So, I decided I would spend 5 minutes reading to her each night before I tucked her in – I knew I could manage 5 minutes. Sometimes, I might only manage to read 1 page, but we are still making progress. I noticed tonight that we are nearly at the end of the book and it certainly hasn’t spoiled our enjoyment of the book – if anything it has increased it, as we often end on a cliff hanger, mid-chapter!

We live in a very hurried world, where many people have become addicted to the thrill of instant gratification and this slow and steady approach is certainly the antithesis of our hurried modern world. However, I have found it a path that has enabled me to feed my soul and spirit and learn to appreciate enjoying the beauty of the process as much as the end destination. I am sure it might look very different for you in your life, but I hope that maybe my ideas might inspire you to go for one of your goals using the Isaiah Principle.

Be Encouraged 🙂

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P.S. Fun fact – it was actually a non-Christian who introduced me to the concept of small changes to lose weight – Nick Crutch – personal trainer and exercise coach in Bicester (specialising in post-natal exercise too) Tel: O1869 253O3O

#coffeewiththeking –for more information on this see here.

Sally Clarkson – both my Sally Clarkson quotes come from her podcasts – At Home With Sally on Itunes podcasts, or via her blog at www.sallyclarkson.com

This article is also in the current issue of the Home Time Magazine, the magazine of CHESS – The UK Christian Home Educators Support Service. I am a member and I thoroughly recommend it 🙂

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