Practice makes permanent

During the Birmingham Commonwealth Games I was fascinated by the 10 metre
diving events. I marvelled at how some of the divers would approach their dive. In
an upside-down position on their hands perched on the very edge of the board, they
held themselves perfectly still before launching into the water below in a feat of
skill and bravery, to my eyes and mind at least. Sometimes the divers would perform
their routines, solo, and at other times as a pair in a synchronised performance of
breathtaking choreography.
After one event, Gaby Logan was joined on the commentary sofa by Tonia Couch,
herself a former diving medallist. Gaby was asking why one diver who was normally
part of a duo, when performing solo did not move to the mid centre of the board
before starting, but instead remained at the outer edge side where normally he
would have been opposite his partner. Tonia said that whilst we normally say,
“Practice makes perfect” – in the diving world, divers say, “Practice makes
permanent.” What she was suggesting was that in a sense to make their routine
perfect, the divers had to practice in such a way that their routine became
‘permanent’ within them. The mind has a memory which connects to the body and so
a habit can become a permanent feature of muscle memory. This set my own mind
into a dive. I had been reading Hebrews 11:29-12:2 earlier where the Apostle Paul
uses a racing metaphor to describe a life of faith. Imagine a stadium with a crowd
watching the athletes. Every seat is taken. Look closely and you will see the saints,
men and women who have given their lives in the service of God. There are holy
people who dedicated themselves to the power of God. There are martyrs who died
for the faith. All are watching the arena and the race that is taking place. It is an
important race, for much of what they lived and died for is at stake. The one sitting
at the end of the track is the King (Jesus). He too watches, for the kingdom is in
some ways dependent on these runners. If the runners do not give themselves and
dedicate themselves to the race, then the kingdom could be lost to the earth. The
spectators know that if the runners do not win, much of what they have laboured
for will be in vain. Now look at the runners. You should recognise them for you are
among them. It is we who are in that stadium – we are fighting to win. It is a battle
for our eternal soul, and more, it is the only way the kingdom can be established on
earth. The saints depend on us for their work not to be lost. We are called to witness
and proclaim the Gospel. Christ and the saints rely on us – “They would not apart
from us, be made perfect.” So, let’s continue to practice our faith, to name the
presence of God where we experience it, and make our permanent mark on the world.
In the Name of Christ.