We went surfing yesterday at the famous St Ouen’s beach here in Jersey. It’s a fabulous five mile arc of a bay facing directly east which gets some great Atlantic waves.
I’m a regular surfer. Once a year. So I improve slowly. But I’m pleased to say that I am improving. I was standing up on the board coming in on a wave probably 10 or 12 times over the hour. But it was exhausting. I was using muscles in my upper body that I haven’t used quite like that for 12 months and went to bed last night feeling exhausted.
Although I’m still very much a novice, it is a great feeling riding a wave – when you’re up, and have your balance and you’re flowing with the wave. But I was thinking yesterday that I could be so much better (and wouldn’t go to bed with aching muscles) it if I simply practised more. If I lived near the sea and went out once a week, or even every day, I’d improve dramatically. I’d become much more natural at riding the waves.
It got me thinking about practising. What else could I improve on, if I practised? What other waves in life could I ride much more naturally if I increased my regularity? It could be a sport (like cricket) or a hobby (like rock climbing) or a skill (like piano playing). It could be something more simple like gardening or cooking. Or sharing that with others, by practising more at hospitality. But what about other things? What about praying? Or reading the bible? What if I really practised at listening to people? Or worked at being kind? At loving people? Or if I decided I was going to really practise at loving God?
The bible tells me that God’s Spirit will help me in these things. After all, it’s these kind of things that make life fun and interesting and improve the quality of life. That’s one reason why the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of life, who gives life (John 6:63). He helps me when I’m weak (Romans 8:26). He helps me mature (Gal 5:22) and – particularly helpful when it comes to practicing – he helps me to be self-disciplined (2 Tim 1:7).
For most of us, that’s the issue. Self-discipline. Discipline to keep going. But one thing the Olympic athletes are showing us, is that there’s great benefit from regular daily training and practising.
Like me and surfing, there may an area of your life where you are regular – but only once a year! Is it time to change? Time to step up? For me, there is something I’m going to practise. But I know I’ll struggle. So I’m going to ask the Spirit of Jesus to help me. And I know he will, if I ask him and am guided by him. He will help me improve at riding that wave.
What about you?