My little four year old daughter was very frustrated with me. She was bound and determined to fill out a whole worksheet she had found with the numbers 1-30. This was far above her skill level, however she wanted to do it. The problem came in when she also wanted to do it the, “right way.” She wanted me to show her how to perfectly form each number. I tried to explain to her that the purpose of the worksheet was to practice writing her numbers so that soon she would be able to write them more easily. She would have none of that, in her mind it needed to be done the right way, right now!
Oh, little one, how I relate! There are so many times in my life that I feel pressured to do things the “right way.” Sometimes this can be a good thing, because doing things the right way the first time can save time. But most things take some practice.
There are very, very few times in life that we are going to be able to do a thing perfectly the first time around. As a piano teacher I am very familiar with the saying, “Practice makes perfect,” and believe me it can. Anyone who wants to excel at anything is accustomed to long hours of work, or practice.
There is another area of life that we might not necessarily think of in relation to the word “practice.” This is our walk with Jesus. The funny thing is, that word is built in to most of the language that we use to describe ourselves as His followers.
The word “disciple,” is an active word entailing behaviors such as learning, emulating, teaching–all of which require practice. We use other terms such as, “spiritual disciplines,” and another, “spiritual practices.” But how often do we consider that those two terms actually take practice? It takes time to learn how to integrate reading the Bible into your already busy day. It takes awhile to get into the habit of talking with Jesus. It takes some self discipline to go to church Sunday morning or a Bible study during the week. But just like any other practice, it all becomes easier the more we do it and the rewards from this kind of practice far outweigh any earthly goals we achieve.
The great news about all of this is that none of us are expected to do this life of following Jesus the right way, right away. We get to practice! And Jesus is far more patient with us than I even was with my daughter. He gently takes us by the hand and shows us how to do it His way.
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9