“Practice.” The word leapt up for me this morning like John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb. I’d never paid attention before to that particular word here in Matthew 7:24. (Sturdy houses withstanding violent storms and others crumbling as sand shifts beneath them are gripping images.)
Jesus says, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise person building a strong house on a rock solid foundation.”
Practice not perfection. Today I’m not going to get moody and rueful about all my failings. (Rich is relieved to hear this, but wonders if I can pull that off.) Today I’m going to just practice. My practicing may be about as polished as my friend Skyler’s renditions of “Moonlight Sonata” on our piano, but his attempts have blessed me many Tuesday afternoons and I’ll be glad to hear them again after this pandemic passes by.
Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is glorious... and it’s daunting. But I can at least attempt turning sideways and sucking in my stomach to squeeze through the narrow gate today even if I don’t get very far. I can practice scaling down my desires, or better yet desiring better, and higher.
I can imagine finding ways to simply practice beautiful things like mercy, saltiness, and reconciliation. I can practice quietness with simple yes and no responses. I could try walking that extra mile Skyler always hopes we’ll take while he bikes ahead (we did 3.7 miles on Monday; he would love to break our record).
I could try to think of something especially good to do, and not tell even Rich. I could determine to refrain from judging and resolutely refuse to think of anyone as an enemy. (I know who you’re thinking might be an exception, but for today I am not going to think of him as an enemy either.)
Best of all, I could shut my door and practice praying.
If I keep practicing, I will be building a house with character. It will have flaws and awkward additions (a turret on a bungalow?); it will have mismatched colors and maybe a few missing shingles, but I think it will be durable – because it will contain something of the Spirit of Jesus.