Practice, Whine, Practice, Complain

Do you ever complain to God that you’ll never get it right? Do you ever want to give up on developing spiritual discipline?

When my son was young, I decided it would be good for him to learn to type, so I purchased a computer typing instruction program designed for children his age. I expected him to spend twenty minutes every day learning and practicing this new skill.

For the first few weeks, whenever the time we’d determined he would practice rolled around, Zack challenged the need to do this every day. He complained that he was not making any progress and should give up. He complained that it felt awkward and he was certain he would never “get it.” In the same breath, he would assure me that he could practice less time, less often and still learn to type.

Exasperated after yet another attempt at negotiations with the young master, I phoned a good friend to vent my frustration. I heard myself say, “If he would only trust that I know what I’m doing. If he would give it a good chance, doing it my way, for a just a few weeks, then he would see the value he can’t see now!”

As so often happens, God tapped me on the shoulder and I could feel Him encourage me to look in His eyes and hear Him understanding my exasperation because He has a child who acts just like mine – ME!

Too often, when I face the daily struggle of maintaining my efforts at prayer, I complain that I’ll never get it right, that I’ll never keep this discipline effortlessly like others who’ve walked this road longer. I whine that sharing my faith feels awkward and I don’t do it often because I’m so bad at it. I don’t see the point of trying consistently when I fail so frequently. And in the same breath, I insist that I can maintain a fruitful walk with God without the regular discipline of time in His Word and on my knees. I suggest that He’s just being overly cautious to insist on regular practice.

In those moments, I betray a shallow trust in my Lord’s instruction, a childish arrogance that says that I think I know better than He does, an immature penchant for shortcuts, lazy efforts and giving up too easily. My son eventually learned to type but it would have been a better memory minus the whining and arguing and it would have happened faster had he applied himself sooner. I imagine I’ll hear something to that effect in one of my first conversations with God on the other side.

Is God urging you to practice – are you complaining that you don’t see the value, are not getting quick results, can show Him a shortcut to the same result? Give it up, young master, and get back to your lessons. Or have you forgotten his words:

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Philippians 2: 12-16

So, back to work, loved ones. It’s time to shine.

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    The Conversation

  1. Living Water says:

    A good reminder of what it means by …

    All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV)

    Surely, God knows what’s best for us more than we do. Why should we complain or give up because we do not see quick results? God knows His plans for us, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

    Help us dear Lord not to grumble or argue, but to willingly fulfill our roles in Your purpose. Lead us Lord, that we may bear fruit and grow in our walk with You.

  2. A difficult concept to put into practice. It’s so natural to simply give up when we can’t see the end. But the only way to reach our goal, to is to persevere.