Ready to Perform

You attend every practice as a devoted member of the team week after week. The team is up against the biggest and strongest team in the league. You see your name on the team rosters as ‘first string’ for the upcoming big game. You are so excited, but a little nervous. Will you be strong enough? On the first play of the big game, the opposing team comes out with all force and within minutes you are exhausted. You’ve been waiting for this game, and nothing will stop you from giving it your all.

We would never be surprised when the opposing team came out with everything they had, against us. We wouldn’t think it unfair. Rather, we would rise to the challenge and do everything we could to defeat them in the big game. Why don’t we think of our spiritual battle the same way?

BELOVED, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “if the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

1st Peter 4:12-19;5:1-5

We are not only surprised when things get tough in our lives; we feel a sense of unfairness. We’re believe in Christ. Our lives are supposed to be easy now. That is what so many in the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” teach. Real life experience tells a different story.

If we think of attending divine services as ‘practice’ for the big game, then every time things get difficult, we will be ready to perform. If we think of our prayer and fasting as ‘doing drills’ then when we are faced with choosing God’s way or our way, we will be ready.

Every star athlete spends many more hours in practice than in the game. When the game comes, that same athlete uses the skills perfected in practice to defeat the opposing team, never once thinking the deserve the win. No star athlete expects to be handed the trophy without a ‘hard-won’ victory.

As we approach the Triodion period, also known as Pre-Lent, now is the time to rethink life in the Church. Life in the Church is about attending every practice. Every prayer, every day of fasting, every divine service we attend; these are all to prepare us for life in the big game.

When is the big game? Every time we step outside the Church and sometimes even inside the Church, we are faced with spiritual battles that will test our readiness. Sometimes we will be victorious and other times we will fall short.

A star athlete returns to practice after every game, win or lose, to prepare for the next game. Our job as Christians is to work hard and be ready to perform at our best. Win or lose, we must return to the Church and life in the Church to continue practicing. No team wins every game. But every team comes ready to perform.

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