''Winging It' with Stan Smith
Originally posted on 11/07/2018
Technically, the term "military drill" refers specifically to the mass marching of soldiers, but we know there is more to it than that. The military has "drills" and "exercises" all the time. They send their troops -- sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines -- through simulated events to practice, practice, practice. Why?
The idea is simple. If you can get them used to doing certain things in certain situations, when the real situations arise, they will do them without having to think about it. It's like "muscle memory." Muscle memory is not actual memory stored in muscle. It is a set of tasks that your body has done so frequently that you no longer have to think about it. Like touch typing or playing an instrument. Your brain stores these things in a different place than normal memory and they've discovered that people who lack memory can still retain these muscle responses without even knowing how or why.
This principle is important in the Christian life. In general terms, it's what we need when we encounter life's trials. If you repeatedly remind yourself of the truth that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love the Lord" (Romans 8:28), for instance, then when something not so pleasant occurs, you will have this automatic response built in. That kind of thing. It's actually biblical.
Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
That's spiritual muscle memory. When our "powers of discernment" are "trained by constant practice," we are headed toward "mature." We are growing. We can much better "distinguish good from evil." Spiritual muscle memory. So when that true-sounding-but-not claim comes to your attention, you will know that it's not true before you're even sure why. Like the claim, "That was painful, so it must be bad." Seems plausible ... until you evaluate it in the light of God's Word. The idea, biblically, is that you will be fed the truth (Ephesians 4:11-16) and be given exercises to practice the truth so that, in the end, you will be perfected (James 1:2-4).
So I keep bringing up important biblical doctrines like the Sovereignty of God and the problem of sin and the glory of the Gospel. The day will come when I (and you) will need this information in a crisis. I want to have my "muscle memory" response to be God's rather than a failed sinful response. I want to build up those muscles in advance so when I need them I won't have to think about it so much. A different kind of body building. In my view, a much more useful drill than marching soldiers.