This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Jim Teague,
First Pres director of communications.
Each morning, I have a silly little ritual. After finishing my breakfast, I wad up my paper napkin, stand at one end of our tiny kitchen and seek to throw the napkin into the plastic trash can at the opposite end.
The shot is six or seven feet away, and the can has a narrow oval opening. If I had to guess, I would say my accuracy is somewhere between 60 and 70 percent. Some days, I switch from my favored left hand to the right (I actually find my accuracy is better this way; maybe I’m trying harder?). On occasion, I try a shot from behind my back, or one that has a particularly high arc. There are days when I’ll attempt it while I am still sitting at the kitchen table.
If I miss, I’ll occasionally (often) mutter under my breath, “Well, that’s not a good omen.” Depending on whether I am running late, I might pick up the napkin and try again (sometimes two or three times) until I hit the shot. I know full well it is no omen at all, and whether or not I can sink a shot into a garbage can with a paper napkin has no impact whatsoever on what the rest of the day may hold. Even so, it brightens my mood whenever I am successful in my attempt, especially on the first try.
I am not what you would call a natural athlete. To achieve any kind of success, I have needed to study the game I was playing more and practice harder than my fellow teammates and competitors just to keep up. Repetition and concentration on proper technique was essential, and even that only got me so far.
There have been times in my relationship with Jesus I have fooled myself into thinking it works the same way as my athletic endeavors. Truth be told, there are some minor correlations:
- Daily attention is beneficial, if not essential.
- Some of us have been blessed with certain “God-given” talents and abilities that are vital in the life of the church (and the Church).
- We ALWAYS get another chance with Jesus. In fact, grace is at the core of our relationship with him.
- Knowing the core truths—or essentials—can go a long way toward our “success” in serving God, the church, and others.
All that being true (and I believe it is), you have probably already noticed several ways the sports/athlete analogy quickly falls apart when it comes to walking in our Christian faith. Here are a few that spring to mind for me:
- First and foremost, the victory in Christ has already been won. We know what the outcome will be.
- In giving our lives over to Jesus, we give him permission to use them for his purposes, knowing that they will work to the good for us as well.
- Games have rules/laws and penalties. We have been set free from the law of the Old Covenant and Christ has already paid the penalty of death. Hallelujah!
- We can (and probably should) study the Scriptures as much as possible, but without a relationship with Jesus, all that knowledge is empty.
- Managers and coaches teach and then step aside and let the players take the field. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, guiding us, guarding us, leading us back to him when we go astray. He is right there with us.
Most analogies we have about faith and the life of the church break when stretched too far. This one (comparing athletic endeavors and our lives spent with Jesus) is no different.
One final thought about my morning attempts at shooting a crumpled-up napkin into a garbage can: When I grumble about a miss by jokingly calling it a bad omen, please understand that I really don’t believe in omens at all. But I do believe we can always be listening for that “still, small voice” as we meet with Jesus each day, and, as we develop our listening skills, we can be given an appreciable sense of what we should prepare for.
Today’s eNews includes a brief update on the process of finding an interim senior pastor. It can also be found here on our website. These updates are meant to be more than informative. Please use them as guides to pray for the process, the people involved, and for the Holy Spirit to be ordering our steps and leading the right individuals to apply and for God’s choice to be selected.
On Sunday, we welcome guest preacher Rev. Mike Miller of Next Ministries to our pulpit. Please join us as we worship at 9:30 a.m. in person and online.
Grace and peace to all of you, fellow sheep.
FPCE Director of Communications
P.S. – Two weeks ago, Pastor Amanda told us about how sheep are not the brightest of animals, and really need to be led. Here’s a video I saw this week that offers a humorous illustration of that truth (and is a pretty good example of how my walk with Jesus often goes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNidKqCCrKs (Note: This link goes to YouTube which is not always known for safe content or appropriate advertising.)