Having grown up on the coast, I remember there being several things to do before a storm arrived. Get the candles out, check the flashlight batteries, and find all the blankets you could. Power outages on the coast are common and can last for days at a time. One year when I was home for Christmas break we had an outage last for almost three days. Some years (when I wasn’t home for the break) they lasted for four or five days.
Between last night and this morning in Black Butte for the annual Cross Training winter retreat, guest speaker Saul has directed our attention to how well or not well we’re preparing our souls for an encounter with God. For those who don’t know, Cross Training is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry for the University of Oregon. Saul is a former d-lineman for UO and knows what it means to prepare his body for athletic performance. And while he has geared his messages to the athletes, anyone who has ever wanted to be good at something can relate.
For instance, I love to write. And in order to get better at it, I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy every day practicing my craft. But this writing on a daily basis just for the sake of writing on a daily basis; it’s preparation. I’m preparing myself with my writing abilities for possibly something bigger. I’m preparing myself for if/when I get an opportunity to publish something beyond a blog. In the same way, whatever we do on a daily basis is preparing our souls for an encounter with God. The question we then must ask, what are we doing?
Whether you’re an Oregon fan or not, you’ve probably heard of Chip Kelly and his move to the NFL. It’s very sad news for Duck fans because he has been so beloved for what he’s done in his time here in Oregon. And yet he became so beloved because of a simple motto: win the day. Chip believes that if you practice as though you were in a game, you’d feel less pressure when game time arrived, so you’d be able to perform better. So if you made up your mind and devoted your focus to winning the day, you’d be better prepared for game time and more able to perform better.
And given Chip’s record as the Oregon head coach, I’d say it’s a pretty effective motto.
When it comes to seeking God, it’s no different. How well we practice our walk with Christ each day influences our encounters with Him directly. What does it look like to practice our walk with Christ? Matthew 7:24-27 gives a clue:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Jesus says that those who listen to Him and do what He says will be prepared for the stormy seasons of life. Just like getting out the candles and blankets for potential power outages, Jesus is sharpening us for the tests we’re about to take. Whether or not we experience a real challenge doesn’t matter; being prepared for those challenges, though, does. Like an English professor of mine always telling us there’d be a quiz in the next class but never giving one; he just wanted to make sure we were doing the readings.
One of the questions for today, this weekend, and heck for the rest of my life is how well am I preparing myself for what’s next? How well am I seeking Christ to prepare for the storms or the chances to perform? How ready will I be when the spotlight comes to me?