by: Staci Stallings
You know for as long as I can remember, I’ve heard the term, “Practicing your faith.” People would ask if you were a “practicing Catholic” on forms when you or your child planned to receive a new Sacrament.
Of course, I knew what that meant (or thought I did). You followed the rules. You went to church on Sunday and to Confession during Advent and Lent. That kind of thing.
The other day, however, I got a real shock as I was talking with a friend of mine. She was lamenting the fact that she seemed to get off-track with God so easily, blaming Him when things went wrong and not really trusting Him and His promises. We went round and around that mountain several times, and finally, I said, “Look, it’s not about being perfect or getting it perfect. It’s about practicing it!”
Yes. It’s about PRACTICING your faith.
Now think about this a moment.
Did Michael Jordan just one day decide he wanted to play in the NBA play-offs and win the game for his team with a last-second, awe-inspiring shot at the buzzer? Was that the first time he’d ever stepped onto a court? Did he shoot a few times on Sunday and call it good?
What made Michael Jordan… well, Michael Jordan?
I’ll give you one word: Practice.
In fact, I remember hearing how he would come early, before others got there… to practice. He would stay late…. to practice. He made a study of the game of basketball. I’m sure he even practiced in his mind when his body wasn’t on the court.
In point of fact, it was his willingness to practice that first earned him a spot on his high school team after he’d been cut as a sophomore!
He didn’t quit.
He didn’t put in a little effort and then whine because others didn’t recognize his talent.
No, like the saying by the high jumper, he threw his heart over the bar, and his body (and fame) followed.
So, how about you?
Do you show up early? Do you put real, sweat-effort into your faith? When the chips are down and you’re on your last prayer, do you actively PRACTICE your faith?
Or do you do the bare minimum, show up late, leave early, and complain to God that He’s not doing enough in your life?
Do you actively cultivate a relationship with God–getting to know Him on a really deep level? Do you practice trusting Him in the small things so when the big things come, it’s already your habit?
Or do you plan to hope you’ll get lucky on that last second faith shot?
Practicing your faith means… well, practicing! Doing your best, and learning to do it better.
Look at Peter and how much practice it took for him to become Saint Peter. I was telling a friend the other day… She was telling me how she didn’t feel equal to the task God was giving her, that she was afraid she couldn’t do it.
I said, “You’re right. You can’t, but God can.”
It’s like Peter. Think about it. He was an illiterate fisherman who had a severe anger management problem. He was impulsive and sometimes reckless. He denied Jesus and then actively went back to his former lifestyle when Jesus was crucified. This is a guy who got it wrong probably more than he got it right–at least early on. Jesus even called him “Satan” at one point!
Let’s face it. Peter needed A LOT of practice.
But the end of the story is that Peter was given the keys to the kingdom. He became the first Pope, the rock Jesus did eventually build His Church upon. The Michael Jordan, if you will, of the faith. Not because of his innate talent and ability but because of his willingness to keep practicing even when he missed so many faith shots common sense would say to find another game.
So, today, make PRACTICE your watch-word. Practice your faith. Take one thing and actively put it in God’s hands. Let go of control. Let go of thinking you can or even you have to. Relax into letting God work through you.
Does that sound easy? Or impossible?