The Divine Mystery exists in each of us. We are Stewards of that Mystery.
My favorite work of fiction is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. A number of you have heard me explain in some detail why the book moves me so much. One of the things that Owen says during the course of his development is, “FAITH TAKES PRACTICE.” (His character speaks in all capital letters.)
It’s a simple idea: that faith is more than a warm feeling, more than a sense of well-being when things are running smoothly; that faith takes effort, takes work and concentration and attention. Often, our faith must be exercised in the face of very difficult and painful circumstances. Yet, when deepening our faith is put in terms of practice, we know we are hearing the truth about it. We may resist this truth, or deny it, or speak with frustration that it should somehow be different or easier. We know better, though. Faith, along with anything else worthwhile, takes practice.
Our own Biblical story, starting with Creation itself, is filled with struggle and the fact that faith takes practice. When Abraham and Sarah are promised a land and descendants, they have to practice patience and courage and faith and the giving and receiving of forgiveness before they experience the realization of those promises. The struggles of Jacob are highlighted in the Genesis story. His new name, Israel, born of wrestling with God, means, loosely, The One Who Contends With God. While he connives and manipulates early in his life to get what he believes he deserves, he must practice faith much of his adult life to receive a blessing he doesn’t deserve. He is forced to practice that patient faith when events reel out of his control.
We are all practicing something, everyday. And, as our coaches in life have told us, the way we practice is the way we play. What we practice and how we practice makes a difference to us and to those who cross our paths.
We are all practicing something, everyday. That is the nature of life. There is no escaping that. The nature of the Kingdom of God is that we are free to choose what we practice and that we, like the Biblical characters who practiced their faith, can count on better results than we deserve.
Questions for the day:
If you are content with the results you are getting, what are you doing to achieve them? If you are not content, what do you need to do more of? Less of?