“practice makes perfect” or “repetition is humor”


“Play it again, Sam.” “If at first you don’t succeed…” “Oops, I did it again” “Lather, rinse, repeat.” “Who’s on first? (That’s what I’m trying ta tell ya!)”

Sisyphus rolls his boulder. An athlete runs drills. The addict shoots up again. Someone else dumps a bucket of ice water on their head, or alternatively drops the bucket on said head.

The sun comes up, you get dirty/clean, happy/sad, hungry/full, tired/rested, then the sun goes down, and you repeat the cycle endlessly (or at least “endlessly” as far as we’re concerned). We repeat our routines and recycle catchphrases and hug and kiss the ones we love. There’s a bright side to repetition, like hugs and kisses, and running practice drills. There’s a dark side too, like a drug addict or that third slice of cake. There’s also oceans between the two poles, things that pretend to be neither here nor there, and things that really are. We all default to the repeat function, with no real choice in the matter.

“No way,” you say “I’m too hip and cool to repeat anything. I’m always reinventing myself!” Funny thing about always doing the same thing (even reinventing), people usually call that “repetition”.

Repetition holds an interesting place in our lives. There’s no escaping it, just ask your heart! (bum-thump, bum-thump)

OK, OK, enough trite examples. The fact is we all hit repeat, but the funny thing is I think that we were actually MADE for repeat. See, I’m a big proponent of seeing themes in the Bible. Daniel was always putting himself before God in prayer. The Psalms are chock full of hiding God’s word in your heart, meditating on them, remembering etc. You hide them in your heart so you can bring them out again and again and think about them. Paul urges us to set our minds on things above with the insinuation that it is a thing that continues to happen, and to think on things that are true and good and lovely. The author of Hebrews encourages us to offer up continually a sacrifice of praise. Catch the theme? All of these things are repetitions of a thing that we want to be, or want see happen. And here is the difference between God’s idea of repetition and Sisyphus perpetually pushing a rock up a hillside. Somehow, through the continual and repetitious practice of something good and Holy, God makes us what we in essence only pretend to be, by His power and strength and initiative. It’s not a feedback loop, it’s an ascending spiral staircase to being more like our brother and Savior, Jesus.

For me, this is especially poignant to think about as the next step in our missions journey will contain a LOT of repetition. Over the next year we will repeat the telling of our heart for Japan and our role there many, many times. But I have hope that in the repetition, that thing which we already hold so dear and important to the heart of God would work its way deeper into our own hearts, and become a way that God makes us new every morning, day after day, (almost) ad infinitum. Repeat function, redeemed!

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