Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 Days With Wesley: We Talkin' 'Bout Practice!

If you are a fan of the NBA, or even if you are not (I used to I just occasionally check in on how my Detroit Pistons are doing (not very well, BTW, in case you wondered)) - you may remember Allen Iverson's famous rant to reporters about "practice."

To summarize, Mr. Iverson didn't think too much of practice, since he was the "franchise player" for the Sixers at the time; he thought practice was an unnecessary intrusion because, after all, he was a great player.  He went on about this rather colorfully and at great length.  His famous (infamous?) rant is an all time great moment for teaching what humility is not.

Most people understand the importance of practice for performance.  

Our teen quiz team has been experiencing that lately.  We've done a *lot* of extra practices lately in preparation for the last two quizzes of the year this month (excepting Regionals in May).  They prepared well.  Very well.  But I can't say that, at least today (it was our last District Quiz), it translated into performance.  We did OK in the end, but it was rough.

But this is where our practice differs from other competitions.  Because for us, practice is performance.  And this is not at all unlike (and designed intentionally so) practice as a Jesus-disciple.

For some, the idea that we "practice" to be a Jesus-disciple seems strange.  But this is precisely what we are supposed to do.  Our faith as Jesus-disciples is not somehow separate from our lives.  It is our lives.  And we must practice daily the spiritual disciplines necessary to perform well as a Jesus-disciple.  Not practice now for a performance later, but practice now because it is performance.  To practice faith is to pray, read, study, build relationships, worship, meditate, fast, teach, preach, follow and lead as well as many other spiritual disciplines.  These practices make up a total performance.

In short, as Jesus-disciples, if we do not practice our faith, we do not really have faith at all.  To be a Jesus-disciple is to practice, and for the Jesus disciple to practice is to perform.

And all this is what has been on my mind on an incredibly stressful day that began by spending some time with John Wesley and Jesus.  I posted Psalm 33:3 during this time this morning to viabothandia as it was one of the Scriptures from the prayer book.  It says,

"Sing to the Lord a new song; play skillfully, shout for joy."

Here's what I wrote down at the time:

I want to play skillfully...but to do that means I have to practice, and practice well.  I want to practice hard and be like You - but I can't be like You without You making me like You - but with You, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).  ALL things. ALL THINGS.......not the things *I* desire - but WHATEVER YOU CALL ME TO DO, I *CAN* DO, IN AND THROUGH YOU!!!

(I left the all caps in on purpose - I was shouting...inwardly...otherwise I'd have scared the neighbors...)

Practicing isn't easy.  There are times we just don't want to do it.  It's hard.  And when we don't see the immediate results we had hoped we'd see, we might be tempted to give up practice.  But for Jesus-disciples, giving up practice is giving up the game.

Don't give up.  Don't give in.  Keep practicing.  Start practicing, if that is what you need to do.  Change up your practice routine, if that helps.  But by all means, keep practicing.  You have a part in the performance of God's story and the unfolding of God's Kingdom.  But you'll never know - you can't know - what part in the performance you are to play if you don't keep practicing.  

Practice?  We Talkin' 'Bout Practice!  Yes, Mr. Iverson...we are...and that's a good thing...

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