I recently took some time to write down the lessons that God has been teaching and re-teaching me through running and particularly through running marathons.
John Ortberg in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People, talks about “training versus trying” when it comes to spiritual disciplines. He uses the concept of running a marathon to illustrate the fact that you simply can’t just go out and run one by trying (without risking serious injury.) As Ortberg suggests, imagine the Olympic Committee coming to your door to tell you that you’ve been selected to represent your country by running the marathon in the next Olympic games. After careful research, they have determined that you have exactly what it takes to be the next BEST marathoner in the world. So you gladly accept! The next morning, however, you wake up, and it hits you that you couldn’t run a marathon if you tried. And that’s just the point.
After running a marathon in September, the Lord graciously allowed me to get sick for several weeks. During that time He reminded me that while I had trained hard for the marathon, I had reverted back to “trying” in my spiritual life. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, said to his son in the faith, “…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:7-8) It is safe to infer, because of Paul’s understanding and use of race terminology, that he is comparing life to a challenging race when he makes the comparison between “godliness training” and “physical training.” In other words, to Paul, growing in Christ is serious stuff…it’s not a walk in the park, not even a jog…I would go so far as to say…it’s a marathon…so don’t just try! Train!
May God bless your training plans for spiritual growth in 2013.