I’m kind of a terrible runner. I was that kid who dreaded running the mile in gym class. I only played community soccer because they had to let every kid play at least half the game. Running has never, and still doesn’t, come naturally to me.
I often feel the same way about faith. I’m not someone who naturally spends hours in prayer; after 30 seconds of silence I start wondering what to make for lunch and when to walk my dog. I often watch one more episode on Netflix rather than reading the Bible. Sometimes I wonder, if I really love Jesus, shouldn’t this all come more easily to me?
1 Corinthians 9:23-27
23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- How does the author (Paul) encourage us to approach our spiritual lives?
What is the purpose of this training?
How do we “train” for the sake of the gospel?
What makes it hard to stay disciplined? What makes us “run aimlessly”?
What’s one thing you can do this week to get more serious about your spiritual training?
I’m encouraged that Paul doesn’t say that we should naturally be good at following Jesus. Several years after college, my roommate encouraged me to start running with her. We ran so slowly, I think I probably could have walked faster. But with a schedule, a slow start, and someone to cheer me on, I discovered I actually like running. I’m still no great runner - I’m slow, and sometimes I stop running for months at a time. Yet, every summer (despite the Memphis heat), I sign up for a local 5k training program. I know that I need a training plan and people to come alongside me if I’m ever going to improve or, honestly, if I’m going to keep running at all.
Shouldn’t we be just as serious about our faith? Yes! Paul says we need to take our spiritual training even more seriously than Olympians take their training. But sometimes that means starting slow, or starting over again. Just because I haven’t prayed like I intended to this summer, doesn’t mean I can’t start again now. Just because I’m confused by the Bible passage I read yesterday, doesn’t mean God isn’t shaping me as I spend time in his word.
I need a plan and friends to encourage me in my spiritual training, just like in running. So I put reading the Bible on my calendar and I pray on phone calls with coworkers. Last week, two friends and I agreed to grab coffee once a month to check in on each other’s spiritual lives. It’s hard work, but I’m so glad that God is patient with me as I learn to love running towards him.
Want help creating a Summer Spiritual Plan? Check out this blog, Summer, Time to Connect, to learn more