Saturday, July 21, 2012

the more I practice, the luckier I get

Speaking at the opening rally (photo courtesy of Ray Gryder)
This morning I stumbled on the opening remarks I delivered at the kick-off rally for the “EXTREME FAITH – BOLD ACTION” conference in West Virginia last weekend (The Christian Church – Disciples of Christ). The remarks seemed to go over pretty well, so I’ll trim them down to blog post length and share them for today’s Weekend Update:

hen I headed toward Bethany from Lake Junaluska (North Carolina) I had a long way to drive, so I may have been speeding just a teensy bit. Cruising through Asheville I checked my rear-view mirror to see a State Trooper sitting on my tail. I waved at the officer and shrugged my shoulders, but he responded with a frown and an exaggerated shake of his head. Then he laughed, waved, and pulled off at the next exit.

The incident reminded me of the spring day everything went perfectly for me on the golf course. Inexplicably, I shot a 78. I felt so good I drove home with the top open while listening to LOUD rock-’n-roll. The Plant City Cop pulled me over as I zoomed past Turkey Creek Middle School singing along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody at 55 mph.

Long story short, the officer recognized me from the newspaper. He said, “I could write you a $300 ticket, but instead I want to shake your hand,” and then sent me on my way.

Someone told me I had a lot of luck going my way that day, and one of my golfing buddies said, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” But that got me to thinking and I recalled a television interview with Phil Mickelson after “Lefty” made a hole-in-one at a tournament.

Keynote, Sat night (photo: Andra Moran)
“Wouldn’t you agree that a hole-in-one really is a result of luck,” the commentator said. “It’s actually no better than a great shot that stops a foot from the going in.”

Mickelson looked at him, and raised one eyebrow. “Maybe,” he said. “But over time I’ve noticed how the more I practice the luckier I tend to be…”

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE… Our experience as Christian men – as disciples of Jesus – is a lot like that. The essential meaning of “disciple” is discipline, and the key behavior in discipline is practice. Being intentional when it comes to practicing what it means to follow Jesus is one of the most important decisions we can make if we want to add life and meaning to our experience of faith.

My senior year in high school I played in the annual “Masters versus the Boys” golf match. I wasn’t on the team, but they needed a couple of extra players because more teachers wanted to play. By some strange confluence of circumstance the entire contest came down to me and my English teacher on the 18th green. I had a meandering 20-foot putt to win. If I missed it the boys team lost.

There were at least 100 people watching, mostly my friends. I closed my eyes and tried to block everything else out other than the putt. When I opened them the hole appeared about the size of a manhole cover, and it was the simplest thing in the world to roll the ball into the hole.
It was the focus. The single-minded purpose. That’s what made it work.

At the keynote, Saturday night (photo by Andra Moran)
PRAYER: So my prayer for all of you this weekend (I said to the Disciples of Christ Men last weekend) is that you bring that kind of focus to your relationship with Jesus. Then you will not need to be lucky in your journey… because Jesus is that good.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9)

In Christ – DEREK

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