A friend was telling me about his plans to take up golf. “My goal is to break 100 consistently within a year!” he said with confidence. I asked how he was approaching this goal and he began to show me all the books he was reading on golf. He proudly showed me this huge book called “The Bible of Golf.” And then he pulled out several DVDs about learning golf, and next he showed me these index cards on which he had written great quotes from the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and others.
“I’m memorizing all these quotes,” he beamed. “They help me stay focused on golf.”
I then asked about his practice schedule: how often he was hitting balls and what shots he was focusing on. Blank look. “What do you mean?” he asked, confused. “I just told you all the things I’m doing to practice.”
I can see the equally blank looks on the faces of the crowds around Jesus when he said, 46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.” Luke 6 Bold added
Jesus goes on to describe the man who actually practices what Jesus is teaching as someone who is building a rock-solid foundation for his life. And by … in advance … actually putting into practice what Jesus teaches, this person will be ready … in advance … for the storms of life that inevitably come.
These storms might take the form of problems, or temptations, even opportunities and decisions. They often come unexpectedly and close on us quickly. Are you ready? Are you rock-solid ready? Jesus says you will be if you are out there putting into practice what he teaches.
Are you practicing, or just studying?
Jesus might ask you, “So, why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and not actually practice what I am teaching you? Why do you go to church, pray the Lord’s Prayer, go to Bible Studies and retreats, and pray, and on and on and on? And not practice on a day to day basis?”
My guess would be not that you are lazy, or not interested, or a bad person. My guess would be you’ve never actually thought about it.
Okay, there are many things you could be practicing. But before you make a list and grit your teeth with a “No pain, no gain” approach, may I suggest a better starting point? May I suggest you start by first practicing the presence of God?
The more you see God all around you, out ahead of you and even behind you, and the more you visualize Jesus standing beside you, always there and always ready to help and to guide, the more you will come to naturally practice his teachings. Why wouldn’t you, the Master is right there with you, and within you?
We live in a God-saturated world. You live in a world saturated with God’s presence, and his power, and his perfect love. But you have to learn to look for him, to practice seeing. You won’t see him just by accident. And you won’t see him, really seehim, with a ho-hum good Church effort, either. And absolutely not in the blur of your busy life.
But as you start to see God, those problems rushing at you, those temptations, even those big decisions, previously so ominous and powerful, start to slow down and shrink, as does the anxiety and the sense of being overwhelmed.
“Why would I worry? He’s right here with me.”
Are you practicing the presence of God? No, you’re not. Please don’t be offended. I don’t have to know you to know this. You are not, yet. But you can start, today.
If You Want a Little More:
At another time the crowds are all around Jesus, so much so his mother and brothers can’t get in to see him. But Jesus, in that way of his, says this: “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Luke 8:21 bold added
My dear friend Tommy moved to Japan a few years ago, and now speaks fluent Japanese. That would be like me learning to fly, literally. A good old Sumter boy completely comfortable in a language totally foreign to most of the world?
When I asked Tom how he could have possibly learned such an alien language, and learned it to the point of apparent natural ease, he said, “Well Sam, I studied a lot. I memorized words and sounds and phonetics, but one day I realized I simply had to go out on the street and practice speaking Japanese with the Japanese.”
He went on to say, “Until then it was purely academic, no matter how sincere I was about learning. Putting it into practice out there on the streets is how I learned not to force the words, but to speak the language freely and naturally.”
Jesus said something similar:
“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bold added
Watch Jesus and watch for Jesus. See him. Put into practice his “always and already there” presence, and you, too, will learn to live freely and lightly.