Muscle Memory

My son grew up playing baseball, and he learned the concept of “muscle memory.” His favorite coach would harp on this, telling the boys that developing good muscle memory for the mechanics of hitting, throwing and fielding was essential, not only to playing the game well but to avoid injury.

He would say:

“If you take 300 swings in the cage, but your mechanics are wrong, you won’t achieve `practice makes perfect,’ you’ll achieve `practice makes wrong.’”

In the most recent episode of the Pinnacle Forum podcast “Unleashing Your Leadership,” my guest talks about resilience. Without giving away too much in advance, he emphasizes that how we prepare for the storms of life dictate to a large degree how we respond to them and how well we bounce back (resilience).

I couldn’t help but think of the lessons my son got in developing proper baseball mechanics through muscle memory. By properly and regularly repeating the right kind of mechanics, he was able to prepare for game situations where he didn’t have to think about how to throw a pitch, or hit, or field. These processes became increasingly instinctual and reflexive.

In other words, good muscle memory.

And when something went wrong, with coaching he was able to quickly correct the error and revert back to the right kind of mechanics.

In other words, resilience.

With respect to our calling to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), here are two questions to ponder:

  1. What are the “mechanics” we can practice regularly to develop the “muscle memory” to be able to bounce back from the inevitable trials, tribulations and tragedies we will face?
  1. Are we practicing those “mechanics” regularly in order to mature and be prepared for the next storm to blow into our lives?

In John 16:33 Jesus warns his disciples, “In this world you will have trials…” Storms are inevitable. But then he encourages them, “but take heart [or be of good courage], for I have overcome the world.”

How do we access Christ’s overcoming? How do we live in that reality, a reality he promised would be ours for the having? Jesus gave us the key to that lock in John 15 when he exhorted his disciples to “abide in me.” It’s there we’ll find and live out our pathway to spiritual “muscle memory.”


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