My orientation into chaplaincy has begun. Who knew orientation could feel so disorienting? While inundated with information, it is amazing how many golden nuggets of truth and wisdom I have received in a weeks time. One statement I am fixated on, even though I have not yet visited a single patient is this: “The game will slow down.”
It was an analogy for perceiving and understanding the dynamics of a room whether it be just a patient or an entire family is present when ministering in the hospital.
I felt this analogy helpful even though I am not particularly excellent at any one particular sport. I do feel like I have the mental capacity to comprehend what the chaplain who shared this meant as it relates to me in the sports of soccer, wrestling, and racquetball.
The gist of the statement: “the game will slow down” pertains to our mastery of craft or vocation or even hobby. It has relatively nothing to do with ease as much as it has to do with familiarity with yourself in a given situation.
In other words a sport might become exceedingly more difficult based on who your opponent is, but the confidence you have in your ability or in the case of chaplaincy, the confidence of God at work through my availability should not be shook by the difficulty of the task in front of me.
And because I am not shook I can perceive. Or to say it another way, I can evaluate the circumstances of those I will minister to without becoming so introspective about whether or not I am capable.
And while I entirely understand this, I am reminded of something that happens to me whether it be in soccer, racquetball, and when I was training as a wrestler (never when I performed). Inevitably, these moments would come, often expected, in which my resolve would gas out completely in the middle of competition mode.
It is not through reaching a limit of physical exertion as much as I hit the wall of mental distraction. I become so preoccupied with something other than that in which I am competing only to get bogged down by this other area of life that makes me feel incapable.
I can talk about it because it has happened often enough in the past that it feels so real as I write. Sometimes I could be fully engaged in a game and then an idle thought about failed interpersonal relationships or fear of performance in another area of life has now interrupted my current activity.
And the game in which moments before I felt extremely capable and in control has now become secondary to the internal mental crisis that chose to interrupt me.
And now for the why I am writing about this.
I am writing to point to God, perhaps as to how he might view this program we’ve got going on down here. Not that God or we should equate life to a game by any means, but God is watching this thing unfold in slow-mo. In His infinite patience, God gives us time and space to learn to relate through the reconciliation purchased by Jesus Christ.
And some of us are so obstinate to the greatest offer we could ever receive while breathing: unrestricted access to the throne of God.
But if the games end is standing before that throne, which sadly I think many professing Christians often forget or maybe some have entirely abandoned, then I’m endeavoring to stand before that throne faithful.
And however slow it may take to attain it, in Christ’s mercy, may I attain.