Every summer I try and exercise. It usually doesn’t go very well. If I have a goal in mind, I sometimes manage it – sporadically and for a little while. But once the goal is reached, it’s back to the couch and the brownie pan for me. A long winter of enlargement lies ahead.
This summer has been different. I’ve been exercising almost every day. How is that possible?
I stopped trying to exercise every day.
One morning, I got up – early, early, early, so very early – and exercised today. The next morning I got up, and exercised today. The next morning, I got up… etc.
I stopped with “When this or that happens, I will exercise.” I stopped with “I’m going to exercise <NUMBER> of times this week.” And I began just exercising today. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is too far away. But if I exercise today, I begin to make the change I want.
I stopped gaining weight, I’ve actually begun losing weight, and I am getting in better shape all the time. I have more energy, I get more done. But it’s not because I started “exercising every day.”
So, how does this apply to my normal topic – life in the church?
Over the years, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have the best intentions about coming to church. They just never actually make it. “After this event”, “After I’m done with that”, “When this happens” They want to come to church every week. But not this week. Well, that’s really the same as never.
If you want to make a change, stop planning to go to church every week. It will never happen.
Instead, go to church this Sunday. When the alarm goes off, if you’ve only been asleep for 4 hours, go to church. If you had the worst day yesterday, and you need to recover, go to church. If you are on vacation, and the schedule is just too crowded to find the time, go to church (locator.lcms.org or lutheranliturgy.org). If you are not feeling well, go to church (unless you are hospitalized or have a fever/vomiting).
The important thing is, you need to be in church. You may know it. You may not. (If you don’t think you need church – this is a warning sing that you are really sick – GO TO CHURCH!!!) But trying to go to church every Sunday is too hard. Going to church THIS Sunday, even if it’s really, really, really, horribly inconvenient, is possible.
I never thought I would be able to exercise more than three days a week. But I have – almost every week this summer. And I did it by giving up on exercising three times a week, and focusing on exercising today.
This may sound more like a motivational speech than a sermon. It is, I suppose. But there is biblical support for this plan. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” It turns out, Jesus knows how the mind works. He should – he created it.
So, if you have been finding it hard to get to church every Sunday, give up. But this Sunday – no excuses. See you there!
NOTE: If you like this post, you may like “What Every Christian Must Know: Outlines of Luther’s Large Catechism.” It makes a great study guide for a Reformation 500 bible study.