Practice Makes Perfect
I made the decision about four months ago to head back to the gym after taking almost an entire year off from engaging in a serious exercise regimen.
The first couple of months back was pretty brutal. I was sore all of the time, hurting in places I didn't know I could hurt. I had to drag myself to the gym to meet my trainer, who had no sympathy for me.
But slowly, over the last couple of months, things have gotten a bit easier.
I can now run on the treadmill for longer periods of time, row for farther distances on the rowing machine. I can lift heavier weights for more repetitions. And all because I have been practicing--working hard to get better, faster, stronger.
This morning, I read the following quote from Richard Rohr that captured my attention:
It is strange that we have come to understand the importance of practice in sports, in most therapies, in any successful business, and in any creative endeavor, but for some reason, most of us do not see the need for it in the world of religion, where is probably more important than any other area.It's true isn't? As I was telling you all about my gym woes, you were thinking, "Well, that's what it takes to get into physical shape, Bucko. Suck it up." Because we all get that practice is necessary in order to gain proficiency in something.
So why don't we feel the same way about following Jesus?
Most of us devote very little time to our spiritual growth and then wonder why we struggle so much with doubt and questions about our faith. We offer up a scant few hours a month to become a stronger follower of Jesus, and then are perplexed when we feel disconnected from Him.
Here's the hard truth: If we want to become a more committed follower of Jesus, we have to actively practice being a follower of Jesus. We need to practice prayer. We need to practice the study of Scripture. We need to practice hospitality and charity.
We also need to practice caring for the least of these. We need to practice generous giving. We need to practice being present in worship with our sisters and brothers of faith.
It's not about working hard so God will love us---that gets us nowhere. This is about showing our love for God by being fully engaged, wild-eyed, passionate practitioners of the Christian faith.
May you practice hard today and every day at stumbling after Jesus with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.