Thursday, April 19, 2012

Drill Practice

And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.

 Philemon 6 The Message

Recently I was asked to assist with the girls softball team at the school I teach at. I was reluctant at first, but felt it would be fun and another way I could connect with some of the students. A few days later I was dressed and ready to attend my first practice session with the team. The coach had formulated a new drill that neither myself nor the girls were familiar with. As she verbally explained the multitude of concepts involved in this particular drill, I began to have the "deer in the headlight" feeling. I knew I was not the only one, because several girls, at various times, asked the coach to clarify her instructions. Whew, I knew I could maintain my newly appointed status as "assistant coach" by not having to admit my lack of understanding of this important drill. One student chimed, "Ugh, I feel like I am in biology class." This comment sunk in, as I am the biology teacher for this student. "So this is how my biology students feel," I mused. Another wave of relief came over me when one of the players asked the coach to demonstrate her instructions. Celebratory sounds were exchanged as the coach agreed. The team spent the next ten minutes doing a "mock drill." After two of these drills, the team declared their understanding of this vital "skill-drill." I smiled with confidence knowing my newly appointed position would continue for at least one more day. 

What this moment taught me was the important difference between knowing about something and actually doing it. In James 3:22 he writes: "You see that faith was working with his works, and as as a result of the works, faith was perfected." Practicing my faith in Christ brings completion to my understanding of His instructions. It is not enough to know that "love covers a multitude of sins," but I must put into practice "fervent love" (1 Peter 4:8). If  "His compassions never fail" (Lamentations 3:22), then I must act in compassion each time I am aware of a need that is within my sphere of influence to meet. If knowing the "truth makes you free" (John 8:32), than I must practice living in truth. You see, practicing that softball drill cemented my understanding of its value. What "life drill" do you need to put into practice? Christ can only be recognized when we go from knowing who He is to practicing what He commanded us to do. Then, and only then, will the world recognize that He came to " bind the brokenhearted," to turn the "ashes" of our life into "gladness," and to "set the captive free" (Isaiah 61).      

Today, Father, grant me the strength to do what I know is right: to speak gentle, to love unconditionally, and to forgive as many times as requested. Let the works of my life demonstrate to the world that my faith in you is worth the investment. You, Oh God, redeem people. I pray, in Jesus name, amen. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bare and Blessed

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Luke 24:2-3

Years ago, while working and attending graduate school, my oldest daughter, twelve at the time, asked me to watch a movie with her. As was my habit, I turned this into an opportunity to multitask. I carefully planned what I would accomplish for school, as I fulfilled my role as an "attentive" mother. I was not prepared for my daughter's next request. In her soft, quiet nature, and tender voice, she said, "Mommy, would you please watch the movie with me with your hands empty?" I instantly knew what she meant. She wanted my undivided attention. She understood that multitasking equated to a half-hearted attempt at building a relationship.

I have never forgotten that moment, or the lesson her request taught me that day. There is a blessing to barrenness. I laid down my books and gave my daughter my "empty hands", but full heart. That day, we sat side by side, mother and daughter, reaping the blessings of barrenness. 

Overload is a modern-day plague that robs relationships of connectedness and joy. We bring a divided heart to the relationships we verbally indicate are most important, However, our "full-hands" truthfully reveal our life priorities. We need to disconnect with our belief that a full life equates with a full heart. Jesus left behind an empty grave that imparted fullness of life and eternity. His empty grave became our greatest gift. Today, empty your life, so that others can enjoy the fullness of fellowship and joy.