The whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions has never been that popular for me; mainly because I never make it out of the month of January with keeping up with the resolution. I have set resolutions in the past and when the New Year began, I began to dive head first into what I believed would be a transforming new me in just a few short days. HA! Yeah Right! I was looking for instant transformation, instant gratification, I wanted a year’s worth of results in mere couple of days. As I sat and thought about the New Year last week and this week, I have been thinking that I want to get back to the basics in my life and things that bring proven results in my life. As I thought about that, I was reminded of my days playing high school and college basketball. I reminisced about how much fun I always had playing in the games and the challenges of facing new opponents, and the thought process going against familiar foes. It got me thinking even deeper, “How did I get into shape for basketball games?” or, “How did I get prepared for those moments in my life?” and, “How can I apply the same determination in my life today?”
In basketball or sports in general, a lot of times you will hear the phrase, “Practice makes perfect.” Well in my life I have never fully believed that to be true and better like to think, “Practice makes results.” Whatever your practices may be they will bring results based on how you prepare in practice. For instance, in basketball if you want to become a prolific three-point shooter like Stephen Curry, Larry Bird, and Reggie Miller you have to be willing to work on every aspect of your shot in practice day-in and day-out putting up countless shots, watching film, analyzing your form, release, legs, follow-through, foot placement, and many more. On top of that you have to put in time running, ball handling, running through plays, and analyzing your coming opponents and their tendencies. I remember as a student athlete everything revolved around practice. During the season the games were great and all but practice is where all the hard work was put into play, the feeling of pure exhaustion as the coach yells, “ON THE LINE!” after a mistake in practice. This idea of practice can be carried over into our daily walks with Christ.
As Christians we often want the instant gratification of results of our relationship with God to go from acquaintances to the very best of friends overnight. And we are often discouraged by the lack of results over night. I am guilty of this misconception many times over in my life. So as I was thinking about what I wanted to see in my life for the year 2019 (By the way, WHERE DID 2018 GO?) I wanted to apply this principle of “Practice Makes Results”. I have a few goals of where I would like to be spiritually, physically, and personally by the end of the year. One of those goals is by the end of 2019 I want to be able to say that I am constantly spending at least one hour a day of quiet time with God in prayer, reading scripture, reading devotionals and other spiritual health books. For me personally, I struggle with quiet times with God because I am an overly analytical person, and when all other noise is eliminated, my brain tends to kick into high gear analyzing everything in my life. So I struggle to silence my own mind to be able to rest in God’s peace. Furthermore, as I thought about this particular goal for the year, I had to come up with a plan that would get me there in a year. I began to apply the practice idea to my spiritual goal. In sports, practices begin early before the season starts with intention to get all of the athletes in shape for the length of the season ahead. Which boiled down means pre-season practices are all about CONDITIONING aka the nasty RUNNING word. So my thought process was what is a good conditioning practice for my goal, and I came to the conclusion that I need to start off slow and intentionally set aside 10-15 minutes a day to spend in quiet time with God until it becomes a healthy habit. Once it becomes a healthy habit, then I will gradually increase the time I spend with God to the point where I can easily say that I spend at least an hour a day quietly with God with no outside distractions.
I tell you all of this to encourage you to set healthy spiritual, physical, and personal practices for your 2019, and to not expect instant results but put in the long hard fought work in your practices of daily living. Remember that practice does not make perfect, but Practice Makes Results. What goals have you set for 2019? What are the practices that will get you to your goal this year?
-Pastor Andrew Hickman