“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus, John 16:33
Saturday morning my weekend men’s group talked about the general topic of, “Is it possible to be a Christian part-time?” Many of the ideas I floated were from my book The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian. (This is – IMHO – probably one of the best books I have written and yet, interestingly, it did not do at all well when it came to sales.)
I started out by asking the guys – essentially – the following question: “Tell the group about something you always wanted to achieve or become competent at.” I was looking for either:
- a success story (as in “I mastered the cello!”) or at least a good try, or…
- an “I guess not!” account (as in “it was my dream to be an Olympic swimmer but I’m not a morning person and only made it to a few practice sessions”).
The seven guys in attendance – all men who shine in more than one area of their lives – shared seven very different stories.
What was consistent, though, was the fact that no matter what natural proclivities and gifts we have, we still need the determined application of intention and effort to get where we want to be (be it climbing a mountain or writing a book or anything at all…). We talked about the fact that someone can be as prodigious as it’s possible to be, say in music, yet they still need to learn the disciplines and the mechanics and the possibilities of their chosen instrument.
The conversation was rich, and deep, and honest, and hopeful – and the guys in the group shared from their hearts. And of course we got to the place I wanted us to end up without me having to say much of anything at all.
Everything worthwhile requires an effort:
Because you can’t talk about our goal of growing in faith, of becoming a closer companion of Jesus, of being real disciples, of bringing God’s light and peace and love and grace into this world, without understanding that it takes commitment… and practice… and work… and failing… and falling down… and getting up… and trying again… and encouragement…. and repeat and start over… and watching it all come together in beauty and love… and so much more. This is what characterizes all of the efforts we truly care about, regardless of our potential (as Olympic athletes, or virtuoso musicians, or spiritual savants…).
So this is Sunday morning, and we have this opportunity to step forward in faith and to begin again. And the wonderful thing is that with Jesus we don’t have to wait long to watch it all come together in beauty and love. At the same time, this is a journey best born of intention and commitment, because it is a journey that – thankfully – never ends.
Peace – and more love – DEREK