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Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect (credit: tom_1984)

In a recent post, I shared from an article about learning to handle a boat. The author’s mentor suggested that he go out in on a quite day to a place undisturbed and unobserved in which he could practice. I got sidetracked from writing, as I said on Monday, but still thought more about this sort of practicing as it relates to our Bible Walk. I recalled an interesting young man that appeared on the television show American Idol a few years ago. He wore a western-style (cowboy) hat and boots, and successfully auditioned for the show, and went on to Hollywood to compete with others. I don’t recall his name, and couldn’t find him in an internet search. His voice was good, though I believe he was eliminated before the final ten contestants. What made him remarkable, to me, is that he’d never sung to an audience until his audition with American Idol; he’d sung only to the ranch animals for whom he’d tended as he grew up. He didn’t even sing to his parents.

Another man comes to my mind that did a lot of practicing where he was undisturbed and unobserved: King David. Here’s part of the story that illustrates the success he had after long practice.

. . .David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him[Goliath]. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, and David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off.

1Samuel 17:32-39

David fought lions and other predators that would have killed the sheep in his charge. During this time, David also spent time with G-d. Long evenings singing to G-d lead to other songs that we enjoy—Psalms. David learned in the years tending sheep to trust G-d. David learned warfare, too. David put it all together, especially the trust of G-d, to fight the battle against Goliath, and win in the Name of the LORD, through His might.

And then there was another gentleman. Saul, who became Paul. Saul was well trained in the Jewish Law and its traditions. Quite the fellow. As Saul, he persecuted the Jews who’d come to believe in Y’shuaJesus as Messiah. Saul had an epiphany; while on the road to Damascus to harass, even slaughter, more Jews, he met Y’shuaJesus. From this time forward, he was one of those Believers he’d persecuted. We read in Acts 9 that Paul “was with the disciples in Damascus for some days. Immediately he began proclaiming Y’shua in the synagogues.” He ruffled a lot of Jewish feathers, and a conspiracy began; the Jews would have Saul killed. With the help of disciples, Paul got out of Dodge. It seems likely at this point, prior to arriving in Jerusalem, he went into the desert (see Galatians 1:17), where he was with the Lord and relearned the Bible from a Messianic perspective, and learned that G-d extended Himself to all people, not just the Jewish nation.

While their stories contrast on some points, both David and Paul spent time in preparation. Practice. I’ve heard it said that we Americans want things instantly. Instant gratification. Instant knowledge. Instant success. We are thrilled to read the success stories that seem to show no amount of preliminary work, preparation, with instant results. It doesn’t really happen. One of the key ingredients in preparation Is not only the physical practice that builds muscle memory, but it is the time spent in mental and emotional preparation. For Christians, that’s utter devotion to the Lord. It is about being with the Lord, then we know what and how to practice the parts we’ll be called to play.

Robert Zünd, 1877

Robert Zünd, 1877 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In thinking more on this topic of practice that is undisturbed and unobserved, I am reminded of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13-35). Like Paul, they knew the scriptures but came to know them in a different way as they walked with Y’shuaJesus. For it was while with the Lord that the scripture became alive to them.

So we don’t necessarily need to run off to the desert to practice our Bible Walk. But we do need to escape the daily grind to be with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be planned, and doesn’t need to be for weeks or years at a time. Moments during our ordinary day are fine. STOP what we currently are doing, let the Spirit of G-d into those moments to transform our inner persons so that our outer person walks the Bible Walk, not just talks it. This, then, becomes our practice.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .