Devotion: Just Do It
Where does it begin – making a decision? Today's devotion comes from bass section member, Dave Michel. Dave shared this devotion prior to the choir's performance in Peoria, IL on February 19, 2016.
You know the feeling when you wake up and it’s cold outside, but it’s warm in bed and you’re really comfy? Maybe it’s a day when you don’t have any time pressures and there’s nothing demanding that you get up right away. When do you get up? How do you decide when to get up? Under the covers, not wanting to move (maybe for a long time), and then, suddenly, you’re up. What makes you come to that decision to get up at that particular time? For that matter, what really is a decision, anyway?
I have this image of a spinning circle – a kind of dynamic stasis, where we wait to find an exit point based on a decision. You could view life as a big bubble bath of spinning circles waiting for decision exit points and all bumping into each other. This happens whether we are constantly reacting to things outside of us, or just sitting quietly by ourselves in a room with only the clock ticking. We’re still making decisions all the time.
Sometimes these decisions are quite intentional – the current trendy term is “mindfulness” – but sometimes you just find yourself already moving on after making your decision subconsciously and acting on it. Pick up the book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg – a very interesting and practical read. Basal ganglia, right, Sara?
What about when you make a good decision, but can’t bring yourself to do it? Paul writes about this in the letter to the Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Just making the decision isn’t enough – a decision is nothing without follow-through.
It goes deeper than that, though. Sometimes we want to believe, but God seems nowhere to be found. Our society tells us that doubts are a sign of weakness, and so we try to cover up our feelings of doubt. The psalms show that doubts are a normal part of life; having doubts doesn’t mean that our relationship with God is broken.
The spirituals embody what the Psalmist is getting at: “I’m gonna sing ‘til the Spirit moves in my heart.” Music is an entry point to bringing ourselves closer to God, even when we don’t feel the Spirit. And once the Sprit moves, all bets are off. When the Spirit moves you realize that God really is in charge (and not us). Our relationship with God is because of what God has done for us, not how we feel about God at any one particular time.
Paul was bemoaning his inability to follow through on doing good as a response to God’s grace, not to elicit God’s grace. The most authentic response to God’s grace is praise, community and action – doing good in the world, even when we need to talk ourselves into it. And talking ourselves into doing what we need to is often a big part of how we work. “I wanna be ready, Lord, to put on my long, white robe.”
The ancient Greeks had two words for “time." Kronos is the ticking clock kind of time, the kind you can measure with. Kairos is “appropriate” time or “opportune” time. When it’s time for a pregnant woman to deliver her baby, or we get an onset perfectly together, that’s Kairos time.
I don’t say this about most marketing slogans, but the motto, “Just do it” is right on. Don’t hesitate, don’t dawdle, don’t spin your wheels when you know what to do. Just do it. It’s Kairos. Make the decision. Take action.
Last year at Lent, Pope Francis suggested that instead of fasting from food, we take a break from indifference. He said, “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”
There are too many wars, too much poverty, too much inequity, too much turmoil in the world.
“Out of the depths have I called unto thee, O Lord.”
We, as a species, have a hard time getting along. Bernstein captures this ugliness beautifully in the Chichester Psalms second movement. It’s a reminder that one of the key tasks of being human is to be humane. Kindness is not only a virtue; it’s more and more a necessity for our survival.
Of course, we are called to more than just getting along. We are the arms and legs of God in the world. So, throw out indifference. Be kind. Put that kindness into action. Make the decision, just do it. Though we might not always feel it, God is in control. Respond with praise, community, and action. And we can join in the singing of all creation with our own voices.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (And even though it’s Lent, out slipped a) Hallelujah!”
Picture: Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria, IL