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  • Writer's pictureShaun Nestor

We Are Being Formed By Our Practices

BayCare Ballpark

Have you ever watched a professional athlete or team warm up before a game? What seems like a random conglomeration of running, specific drills, stretches, and more may seem, to some, pointless. Instead, they act as one of the most important aspects of their body’s preparation for the game ahead.

I’ll often find myself thinking of this when I am at, of course, a baseball game! Full disclosure, I am one of those fans who get there when the gates open, I just love being at the ballpark. But when I am there, I will find myself in my seat, watching the players go through the same routine. The batters all take their turn in the cage, getting swings in. But not just any random swings. They may be looking at their timing, breathing, and the process of their swing. Perhaps they’re asking for a specific pitch or location to be thrown to them. Maybe the BP coach throws them the exact same pitches in the same order every day as a specific routine.

Then you get the starting pitcher and catcher, taking their stroll into center field to begin long-tossing, getting their arms ready for the game. The pitcher starts to work his way through his pitching arsenal while the catcher gets himself prepared for the nine-inning grind to come from being behind the plate, ready to receive pitches upwards to 100 mph while also commanding the infield. Closer to the game, you will see the position players running out to perform their stretches in the outfield. While talking it up with each other, you can see the intention in every step, every motion, and every weighted band they utilize.

Every part of their practice is so precise, intentional, and yet so naturally flowing that it almost seems like they are going through the motions. And maybe some days they are. But their process has been baked into them season over season. 

And yet, these practices, are just the ones we can see on the surface. We don’t see the intense work done behind the scenes. The training, nutrition, mental training, studying the opponent, and getting enough sleep (especially while traveling across the country for much of your season). Every single aspect and step is so carefully crafted and laid out. They have to be because every aspect of these practices shows up on the field.

Our lives are often just like this.

No, we’re not professional athletes. But our lives are made up of practices, whether we carefully crafted them or not. Some of these practices build us up while others promote stagnation or, even worse, degradation.

I recently read a quote from Morgan Snyder: “Our decades are formed by our days, and our days are formed by practices.”

The most important area of all that we can see this is in our walks with God. It can be easy to just “go through the motions” of being a believer. Go to church. Read your bible. Pray for a minute. Go about your day. But the truth is: if that is all we choose to do then we are missing out on so much beauty and contentment in our lives.

Dallas Willard once said, “You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.”

In this busy world, that may be hard for you to do. Just about everyone I have talked to recently has had, within their life's context, the same story come out their lips: “Life is just way too busy.”

And I agree. But that is exactly why, now more than ever, I believe it is most important that we take care of these practices, that we protect our sacred time with the God of the Universe who calls to us and says:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

This invitation from Jesus isn’t simply one of a moment of rest, though He certainly offers it. This invitation is into a deeper relationship with Him. One where He is teaching us His practices. His Way.

Accepting His invitation might mean incorporating new practices into your daily life, but it could also mean saying no to practices or aspects of your life that you hold onto now. Regardless, this invitation is one into a deeper, more pure walk with Christ. It’s a process of becoming more like Him, becoming more of the person the Father meant when He created you.

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