As an addendum to this week’s sermon on faithfulness, today’s post is taken mostly from the my book, The Life God Honors. The foreword was written by my friend, Brian Blair, of The Republic Newspaper. He writes:
“When I first began watching ESPN’s Sports Center a few years ago, the NBA highlight reels transfixed me. The nightly wrap-ups featured more dunking than an Oreo cookies-and-milk extravaganza. Since I was raised on the razzle-dazzle high flyers of the now-defunct ABA, once a rival roundball league, I couldn’t get enough – at least for a while.
Then, I realized that highlight reels are reality on steroids, if you will. The snippets were real, all right. However, they represented but a few adrenaline rushes in a 48-minute game that often looked a lot more like a plodding chess match, given the NBA’s deliberate, half court style.
Dramatic, instant miracles and the other manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit are a lot like that. They’re wanted, needed and powerful when they unfold. But there is much else to nurture.
Back on the tube, I saw something usually horribly missing in the fireworks frenzy of Sports Center:
Free throws are the point of the game where players softly toss up robotic, methodical and uncontested shots that often decide the difference between glorious victory and gut-wrenching defeat.
Foul shots can be as boring as watching haircuts. But they frequently make or break champions.
I think the Christian life is a lot like that. As Jesus followers, many people – charismatics, especially – long for a highlights-reel kind of experience, where the Holy Spirit slam-dunks the enemy into oblivion, where we escape the clutches of temptation with a deft, behind-the-back maneuver, and then we can all explode in a roar of praise.
All of the Lord’s powerful manifestation is needed and wonderful and praiseworthy.
But, in this book, [the author] understands something else: That our Father, like any good coach, knows that our life is full of free throws – the dry, dull part of our faith that we must polish even in privacy, away from the madding crowd.
In a sense, we’ve got to practice Reggie Miller Christianity.
For the uninitiated, Miller, though he filled more than a few highlight reels with flair during his illustrious career with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, became perhaps one of pro basketball’s greatest free-throw shooters. He hit 88 percent of his foul shots in his career, and led the league in that category five times, including his last season in 2004-2005.
If you’ve ever watched anyone practice that element of the game, it’s paint-drying bland. Blah. Sleep inducing, even.
So, too, seemingly, is the practical, real-life application of many of the spiritual disciplines that are discusses here. They stand as major components of following Jesus, step by step, day by uneventful day.
I often wonder if Noah grew weary and bored building his boat over years of time for one, dramatic moment that seemingly would never come. Why didn’t God just “shazam” his watercraft into existence so this preacher could tell everyone of His miraculous and glorious goodness? Why did Jesus have to learn carpentry in slow and precise fashion when He was part of the Godhead who invented the very skill?
Let this book lead you into these kind of lessons here – lessons of trusting God as the behind-the-scenes portion of your faith that becomes a game-changer – and takes you deeper into the life that God honors.”
That foreword by Brian Blair was the perfect way to introduce the concept of my book, which is encapsulated in the subtitle: Rediscovering the Spirituality of Everyday Life.
While many in the body of Christ are looking for goose-bump experiences — and I am not against emotional spiritual experiences — the often-neglected truth in many Christian circles these days is that God is looking for FAITHFULNESS from His people, and faithfulness to what God has placed in your hands TODAY is the ONLY way to progress in His Kingdom.
But faithfulness is not a particularly exciting topic, because faithfulness means doing the “dirty work” of building one’s faith and character down in the trenches of everyday living where emotional highs are often absent.
A discussion on the importance of understanding God’s work in the day-to-day might not seem like material noteworthy enough to write a book about. Yet, you might be surprised how much emphasis God puts on it. You might be equally surprised at how many Christians are frustrated in their spiritual walks because they fail to recognize how God works in the everyday events of their common day.
Many Christians have become transcendence junkies — thus the title for this post. They are addicted to emotional highs and high-energy revival meetings. And while I am not diminishing the importance that these experiences can have in the lives of God’s people from time to time, the truth is that we can’t live on the mountaintop.
And we shouldn’t try.
True faithfulness is very rare in the Church today because God’s greatest work in the lives of His people happens when there is no music playing to caress your emotions, no one cheering you on, and no emotions to keep you going. In other words, God’s greatest transformational work happens when we simply choose to be faithful to whatever He has placed in our hands and do it excellently as unto Him, allowing ourselves to be planted in the House of the Lord with the same group of people for a long period of time so that we can take root and grow, worshipping Him with our work in the marketplace, and leading our families in the instruction of the Lord with no thought of accolades or praise from men.
When we lead a simple life like that, God can work miracles through us — in time — as He weaves together the successes, disappointments, and mistakes of our everyday lives to fulfill His ultimate will. While you may not get a lot of attaboys for working your daily routine, what we do in our everyday lives, my friends, will echo in eternity.