Keep Showing Up
Cal Ripken Jr., nicknamed “The Iron Man”, is a former American baseball shortstop and third baseman who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in during his career, and he won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense. He was a 19-time All-Star and was twice named American League Most Valuable Player. All those statistics are noteworthy, but one arguably surpasses them all; Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played, 2,632. In other words…Cal Ripken showed up. This is more than just a tiny bleep on his statistical sheet; it is a sign of commitment.
Commitment…a word often used, but its complete scope is rarely understood in today’s society. Commitment is a pledge, a promise, a vow, and guarantee that you will complete what you say you will complete. Many commitments seem to start out in a blaze of passion, but when the newness wears off, life gets in the way, or having to show up gets tedious or uncomfortable, the commitment fades and we return to the status quo. We see broken commitments in the divorce rate, in the lives of children who experience a lack of parental guidance, and in today’s workforce jumping from job to job. This lack of commitment has even infiltrated the health and service of the church.
We all understand this is a new day and age and that worship and service in the Body of Christ might look a little different from a few decades ago. One area where this is far from the truth is in the area of spiritual formation. There are classic rhythms in our spiritual walk that are foundational to the health and growth of our life in Christ. I recently came across this statement from the 2nd Vatican Council: “And let us remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for we speak to Him when we pray; we hear from Him when we read Divine sayings.” As the old Sunday School chorus goes, “Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow”. I am sure there are people reading this article that are probably saying, “Thanks, Einstein….tell me something I don’t know!” and this article will not necessarily give new revelation, but an important reminder…keep showing up in your Bible reading and prayer life!! Keep showing up when the daily schedule is crowded, keep showing up when these practices may seem rote, keep showing up when there seems to be no dividends to these rhythms in sight! Maybe that’s what Paul was trying to stress to the Christians in Galatia when he wrote, “May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist.”Galatians 6:9 (VOICE)
- Stanley Jones, missionary to the Muslims and Hindus in India during the first half of the twentieth century, put it this way “Conversion is a gift and an achievement. It is the act of a moment and the work of a lifetime.You cannot attain salvation by disciplines – it is a gift of God. But you cannot retain it without disciplines…Discipline is the fruit of conversion – not the root.”
You may have had an experience when you’ve gotten up from your quiet time with the Lord and thought, “What did I just read?”, or “I feel like my prayers are hitting the ceiling”, be very aware of the source of these thoughts. This is exactly what our spiritual adversary wants us to dwell on. The reading of God’s Word or time spent in talking to Him, or just sitting in His presence is never in vain. If you expose your all to His everything there is a promise of the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2). Remember…He works in ways we cannot see! His Word and your time in His presence will reveal itself at the moment you need it.
Maybe you feel your journey with Christ has gone flat. First of all…admit it to Him – He will not shake His head and show surprise or angst. He knows where you are with Him and admission is the first step to finding a new revelation to going deeper with Him. Looking for a jumpstart in the rhythms of prayer and Bible reading? Here are some practical suggestions:
- Develop the habit, if you aren’t doing so already, read the Word of God daily. Establish a consistent time, place and pattern. Make it a high priority in the coming weeks.
- One way to retain knowledge (of any kind, but especially spiritual revelation) is by passing on to someone some of the things God has been teaching you. Putting into your own words what you are learning is an important method for comprehension and retention. This kind of personal sharing is a win-win situation for you and those with whom you share.
- Review this biblical checklist often:
“Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 (CEV) Go over these seven virtues often noting on a regular basis if you are seeing an increase or decrease in these areas in your life. A daily review of how you are incorporating what you are learning. (Check out “The Prayer of Examen”)
- If you feel your prayer life is in a rut try praying the scriptures.
The issue is when you feel you haven’t heard God speaking in a long time, when it seems everyone else is growing in leaps and bounds, when you feel spiritually stuck, don’t stop opening God’s Word or speaking to Him, or sitting in His presence.
Let’s face it, we live in a day and age where you can find any resource to give direction to spur you on in your spiritual life, so that is not the issue. The issue is when you feel you haven’t heard God speaking in a long time, when it seems everyone else is growing in leaps and bounds, when you feel spiritually stuck, don’t stop opening God’s Word or speaking to Him, or sitting in His presence. The bottom line is God is always, always, always speaking to you, the discipline of prayer and reading of scriptures – in whatever way you feel led to experience them – will help you get in alignment to hear His voice. Keep showing up and God will honor your efforts with a harvest!
written by Major Lauren Hodgson, USA East SLD