Boots - check.
Jacket - check.
Helmet - check.
Gloves - check.
Bluetooth on - check.
Rain gear packed - check.
Water bottle - check.
Backpack with computer and notebook - check.
Ready to roll. This is my morning routine when I’m headed out on the bike. Sometime during the week, usually on a Monday, I’ll also check the bike’s tire pressure and oil level. It is about being prepared. The Boy Scouts made it their motto: “Be Prepared.”
It is also part of Peter’s message to that early church, and to us: “Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).
Preparation implies at least three things: knowledge, skills, and relationships. No matter the venture - hiking, paddle boarding, motorcycling - the better prepared, the more enjoyable the activity. A life of faith is no different.
Sometimes we think of our faith only in terms of crisis response. Faith is a spiritual PTSD coping strategy. It can be that. It is also so much more. The pursuit to understand our faith, to sharpen our life-skills, to broaden our network of relationships produces a greater level of preparation for all kinds of life events. A healthy and growing life-faith helps us celebrate, be thankful, and encourage others (and be encouraged!). It provides context for grief, mouring, and suffering. It is the foundation for the reconciliation of conflict. It is the soil in which peace, joy, and hope can grow and flourish - no matter the season of life.
Summer is a great time to focus on our life-faith preparations. We can find time to read, to chat about faith issues with friends at a coffee shop or around a backyard fire pit. Like any pursuit in which we desire to grow, a prepared life-faith requires a commitment of time and energy. But the benefits are disproportionately valuable - not just for this life but for the one to come!
I wouldn’t dream of riding the bike without all my gear. In the motorcycle community it is called “ATGAT” - All The Gear All The Time. I also can’t imagine a faith relationship with the Creator God that is not intentional. We can call it “ALFGAT” - Always Life-Faith All The Time.” Our social and cultural environment is saturated, 24/7, with non-faith, non-God messaging. Being prepared to live by faith is a demanding, “all the time” effort.
This is not to suggest we build a monastery and live in isolation (if you want to know why that won’t work, catch up on yesterday’s message “Solidarity” which will be on YouTube and Facebook later this week). No, we need to learn how to live out our faith WITH the people God brings into our lives while we walk WITH God.
What can we do to continue our life-faith preparations? Here is a pragmatic list that can help. Ultimately, though, our maturation in faith and life depends very much on our willingness to engage with God Himself. That is something that takes time and commitment. Just “doing” these things won’t automatically create a stronger life-faith. But, it is a good place to start the journey:
- Keep up engaging and gathering with God’s people over the summer
- Read a book about faith or a person of faith (“Daktar” or “Peace Child” are good reads - Google them)
- Watch a series of videos (yeah, I’m going to be self-serving here: check out our YouTube channel)
- Have a faith conversation with someone
- Do a personal spiritual retreat (don’t know how? I can email you a guide)
- Visit someone who has limited mobility
- Write a note or letter of appreciation to someone who has served you
All these things put our faith into motion in the context of everyday life. Not only will it sharpen our perspective, it will help us see other life-faith skills we may need to learn.
Enjoy the summer as a time for personal refreshment and renewal - physically, spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. It is a great time for us to learn a new life-faith skill so we are further prepared to represent Christ well!