“How can they do that?!”
How many of you watched the Olympics over the last few weeks? If you did, at some point, you must have asked: “How can they do that?!” How can someone jump that high, spin and flip that many times, and land without killing themselves? How can someone ski or skate that fast? How can they go face-first down an icy mountain track at speeds faster than my first car?
The answer is simple: these human bodies that God has given us are capable of incredible things, things that defy belief. If… if we dedicate all our time, focus, and effort into that one activity.
How much time, focus, and effort? The magic number is about 10,000 hours, according to several studies. If you really give everything you’ve got for 10,000 hours, you can become world-class at any activity.
But here’s the thing – in order to hit that threshold, you would need to work at the activity 40 hours a week for 250 weeks. That’s five years. For five years, you would do nothing but focus your full effort on that one activity. If you gave the activity a more reasonable amount of time… say, an hour of focused effort a day… it would take you 27½ years!
What’s my point here? We, as humans, want to be great at things, but we frequently make two mistakes: The first is to think: “I could never do that.” This is probably not true. With enough time and focus, you can probably achieve a high level of proficiency. (And as the Paralympics help to demonstrate, even significant handicaps need not prevent this.) The first error is to underestimate yourself.
The second is to think: “I could do that,” without understanding the commitment that excellence will require. Ask anyone who has ever taught lessons – music, drama, sports, gardening, a foreign languge – their experience will be littered with people who thought that in just a few short hours, greatness would be theirs. The second error is to underestimate the sacrifice required.
Why discuss this here?
We make the same two mistakes in our life of faith and in our life together as Christians. Sometimes, we see the great knowledge, or service, or patience, or strength of others, and we think: “I could never do that.” This is a mistake. It ignores the fact that the other person is also a fallen sinner like yourself. And it ignores the fact that, as Jesus: “With God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) You have the greatest coach and advocate on your side: when it comes to the life of faith, there is literally nothing God would not give, right down to his own life, bleeding on a cross.
But sometimes, we underestimate the sacrifice needed. We think, “A trip to church now and then, a little donation in the plate, some volunteer hours, and I’m all set.” This ignores the fact that the life of faith is one of sacrifice. Jesus himself said that “If anyone would be my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
If you find yourself discouraged, remember that you are a baptized child of God, bought by his precious life and blood. He has given you his new life. And in Christ all things are possible.
When you find yourself encouraged in Christ, then remember that we have been called to live as Christ lived and to do as Christ did. This will be a 24/7 occupation for as long as we live. It will mean real sacrifice, real trials, and real effort.
Don’t sell yourself short, either by weak expectations or by weak effort. As the old hymn says, “Jesus gave me all / All to him I owe / Sin had left a crimson stain / He washed it white as snow.”
So many Olympians said it, but it will be even more true for us: when we receive the crown of life, we will know and rejoice that all the sacrifice was worth it. The sacrifice Christ paid to make us his. And the sacrifice we pay as we follow His example.
It won’t come easily. But thanks be to God in Jesus Christ: it will come.
Laboring and rejoicing with you,
Pastor Rob Morris
About Our Pastor Rob Morris:
Pastor Rob Morris has just celebrated his seventh year with us having moved here to Newtown on New Years Eve 2011. Pastor Rob comes to us having earned both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, MA.
Prior to serving at Christ the King, he was a full-time staff member at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, MA, focusing on both the youth and worship ministries. In the Fall of 2011, he attended one semester at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Pastor Morris is joyfully married to his high school sweetheart, Christy, and July 2017 marked their 17th wedding anniversary. They have been entrusted with two wonderful boys, Elijah (who turned 11 in March of 2017) and Isaiah (who turned nine in January of 2018). As a family, they love to hike, bike, explore, read, and play music together.
In his free time, Pastor Morris loves reading, playing music (guitar, bass, drums, piano, and a smattering of other instruments), and both road and mountain biking.
Though the journey to serving at Christ the King was not a traditional one, Pastor Morris is excited to serve in such a warm and vibrant congregation. He says, “Christ the King is the perfect name for this ministry, for it is Christ who reigns by grace through his Word and Sacraments. It is also the perfect name because Christ’s reign is extended by the faithful service of his saints here at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT and around the world.”