This morning I decided to start off my day with a quick run around the pond. It was a cool and misty morning – perfect weather for a good run.
The wind was blowing past my face. I felt the rush of adrenaline as my feet pushed against the pavement.
I felt myself taking it all in – enjoying the moment.
For about 30 seconds.
Then, I remembered that I hate running. In a major way.
Honestly, I prefer just about any other form of exercise over running. Every time I try to do it, I find that my motivation is very short lived. Pathetic, even.
Because of this, I smile every time I read the Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
“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. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (NIV)
Of all the things Paul could have chosen to illustrate the life of the believer here, he chose the imagery of a runner going into strict training to run a race (not eating ice cream, which I would have much preferred).
Here’s the connection: Like running, our spiritual life involves the steady discipline of participating in a relationship with God.*
So what does that mean for us? Each one of us has to come to grips with the priorities in our lives. Are we accidentally or intentionally placing our physical or mental conditioning above our spiritual formation?
As much as I hate to admit it, given some time and accountability, I could establish running as a regular part of my week. If I really put effort into it and disciplined myself, I could eventually grow my endurance and enjoyment of running.** The same is true in the spiritual realm. No matter how difficult reading the Bible, prayer, solitude, fasting, tithing, outreach, or any other spiritual discipline may be to you today, it doesn’t have to stay that way.***
*This relationship is initiated, grown, and sealed through Jesus – His life, death, and resurrection. More here.
**I assure you, I will never let this happen. I hate running.
***If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of spiritual disciplines, I highly recommend this article
****What the heck? Why all the footnotes? This is a blog post, not a research paper. Good grief!