Contemplative Life

Responding Like Jesus to Life’s Demands

In a fast-paced world, we are constantly bombarded with things that require immediate responses, even designed to elicit them. Taking time out to really think about the right response seems counterproductive and there’s almost no room for it. I’m not immune to demands for immediate action during the course of my work drafting legislation. I know from experience that my first draft is rarely right. But, there are those times when it flows. The draft comes together, important connections are made, typos are eliminated – I’m in the zone. Athletes frequently speak of the game slowing down for them in their moments of being in the zone. That wicked curve ball seems to be  suspended in space, giving all the time needed to hit it out of the park. Why can’t we always be able to respond to life’s curve balls by hitting a home run?

I’ve learned that expertise and focus are important foundations for finding the “zone.” Malcolm Gladwell reports that 10,000 hours of practice will perfect a skill. Tai Kwon Do Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee frequently told my class at belt ceremonies that the difference between a beginner and a master is that the master is just one who performs the basics faster. It’s hard to do things well without a mastery of basic skills.

How does this apply to me as a Christian? Moment by moment, life comes barreling toward me, whether I am ready or not. Fight? Flight? To where do I run? There is nowhere I can go to escape the Spirit. There is no place I can go to escape life, even to Sheol. (Ps. 139) That means I have to fight. And I do so, not against flesh and blood but against the very forces of evil in the spiritual realms. Yikes! This is a different and bigger kind of fight than what we normally think of. And how do I fight? I need the whole Armor of God (Eph. 6:10and following). And I need to look at Jesus’ example.  He always had the perfect response for everyone, no matter what situation was thrown at him.  He LIVED in the “zone” and never left it. How did he do it? How can I possibly do it?

He quotes Scripture. I need to learn Scripture. He went out alone to pray. I need to seek solitude and silence and to pray. Jesus does the Father’s works that the Father has given him authority to do. I need to do what the Father gives me authority to do. (Jn 14:10) And then I’m told to neither fight nor flee but to withstand evil and to stand firm. The Spirit dwells within me. (Jn14:17) So, that means I must learn to listen interiorly. For God alone my soul in silence waits (Ps 62). When I am brought before authorities the Holy Spirit will give me the words to say. (Luke 12:12) Jesus was a master, and he wasn’t fancy.  He knew the basics and he knew them to their core. He practiced them regularly, and he embodied them. He calls us to this same rootedness in the Word of God, in the indwelling Holy Spirit, and in prayer, from which all our responses should flow.

It is from personal time with Jesus, in solitude and in silence, that readies me to step up to the plate. As pitches come my way and I realize that the reality behind them is spiritual and not flesh and blood, the Holy Spirit slows down the game and I experience a moment of solitude and silence. Just enough for the Holy Spirit to guide me into my swing. And then I’m off and running after making contact. This week, when you feel the demands and responses of your daily life crowding around you, clamoring for immediate attention, try Jesus’ tactics: scripture, solitude and prayer, standing firm in the Father, and see what God can do in those moments to calibrate your responses for His Glory.

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