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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Greek and Basketball

By Wednesday of an intensive week, the theme of my life tends to center on endurance.

In class, we have been learning in a 3 or 4 hour time span what we are usually given a week to master at home. This isn't necessarily so bad the first day, but by the third day you feel like you've been given more information than you can possibly hold in any lobe of your brain. It reminds me of a Simpson episode where every new fact or figure that Homer Simpson learns causes him to forget something else, like his wife's name, because his brain is full. I'm beginning to sympathize. But I digress... We've spent hours learning the finer points of the Greek participle- present, aorist, and adjectival uses. If you find that complicated, just imagine if you actually understood those terms and had to keep their different forms straight! The mind grows weary after all this learning.

After class, a group of about 11 of us have headed to the gym for some basketball. This is a great way to give your mind a break and allow your body to get some much needed movement. I noticed the first day we were a pretty lively and competitive bunch. By Tuesday, many of us were settling for jumpers over the hard drive to the basket. Today, we were lucky to get half the team back on defense. Or offense. Or off the sideline. Like the mind, the body, too, grows weary.

And yet in both scenarios, in the class and in the gym, I find myself involved in a worthwhile pursuit. These things stretch me and challenge me, and hopefully enable me to improve, whether it be mentally or physically. I guess the theme is that many of the things in life most worth doing will require something of us. It won't come easy. There is something we must sacrifice and something we must be willing to expend in order to make progress.

The question is, will we be willing to pay the price? Too often in our comfort-saturated culture, we are led to believe that anything painful or difficult is bad. I'm not saying we need to become masochistic and look for opportunities to cause ourselves pain, but if you really think the matter through, you may agree that many of life's most valuable moments are the product of great energy, trial, and even pain: exercising discipline in our spending, making a marriage work, forging lasting and meaningful community, raising children, getting our bodies in shape- none of these come without sacrifice! Even the most beautiful moment of human birth is an ironic twist of pain and absolute joy.

I've yet to hit absolute joy in my Greek experience, but I hope it's coming. What is God calling you to do these days? Are you avoiding it because it sounds hard and even painful? Don't. Your best moments and days will be those that have been shaped by a journey involving great struggle.

May you find the courage to go there on your journey today. Blessings!



llamapacker said...

"Absolute joy" - in Greek?

May be unrealistic expectations. enjoyment, satisfaction, feelings of accomplishment and success - even joy as one realizes that it helps me to a bigger prize (better insight and understanding) - but "absolute joy" -- kind of like saying I find "absolute joy" in my vacuum cleaner -- it is a tool. Maybe great joy in that I was able to use it to clean my car and that brought me great joy and pleasure.

I have never thought of my study of Greek in those "absolute" terms -- it was just a tool, sometimes very enjoyable tool, sometimes just a tool that required a lot of time and effort -- but often the feelings of exhilaration when after putting in some serious effort I gained some new insights into the Word.

Pastor Nick said...

Thanks Noel- you always have unique insight. I guess I was using "absolute" more as an anology to say that I'm still in the pain and struggling mode. There have been few breakthroughs to this point. I am happy if I can understand the basic terminology of a verse. One day, I do hope to find great joy in actually understanding Scripture through the minor nuances of the Greek. Not yet, though.