On Saturday, I walked with a friend who is training for a three week walk through Spain. She is trying to walk four hours a day, so when she gets overseas, she will be ready to travel on foot all day, day after day.
She talked about how important it is to train for an event. For instance, if you train for a marathon, you have to train every day, or you won’t be able to run the marathon, much less win, when the day of the race comes.
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. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. I Cor 9:24-25
It is the same thing spiritually. We can’t expect to “win” — experience the joy and benefits of being a Christian (not to mention making it to heaven) — if we don’t put in the discipline of training. This training is reading the Bible, praying, denying self, going to church, building one another up, making the choice moment by moment to do what Jesus would do.
Not only that, but if we don’t train, just like an out of shape runner, we will get tired and quit when the going gets too hard.
- But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matt 7:26-27
- But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15
- For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge. . .(etc) For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. II Peter 1:5-8
Spirituality is subject to entropy just as the physical world is. If you don’t make push yourself and make an effort to grow, you will grow weak.
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 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. I Cor 9:26-27
But when you do push through and grow, you get spiritual endorphins! When we run, we get a runner’s high. When we get out of our comfort zone for God, we get a spiritual high. Here are some ways to stretch ourselves and get those spiritual endorphins triggered: sharing our faith, extended prayer times, fasting, digging into the Bible, opening up to a trusted friend, singing.
If you are a spiritual couch potato, you are cheating yourself of the best spiritual experiences!
And here is the danger of allowing ourselves to be comfortable: we lose our ability to be able to push through. Every time we give in, it becomes more of a habit. We become ruled by pleasing self. We become a slave to fear.
The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!” Prov 22:13
Let’s discipline ourselves to do the things we need to do spiritually, even when it’s hard. Let’s do the extra things that will make us grow. Let us be the ones who will pray harder, love harder, dig deeper into scriptures, open our mouths more, speak the truth more, and step out on faith more. Let us dream, and start trying to achieve our dreams!
God is good, and so many spiritual blessings await us.