Running the Race: Athletes For God

On Dec. 4 I will run in the White Rock Marathon in Dallas. Once a week, I will provide my observations on the connection between the spiritual life and training to run a marathon. Please visit my White Rock fundraising page to honor my daughter and contribute to a great cause.

Unless you don’t know any better or are some kind of genetic freak, no one can just decide one day to run a marathon and then

56/365 morning run
Image by kharied via Flickr

complete 26.2 miles the next day. Most plans that I have seen discuss a training regiment that last five months. I am trying to do it in 3.5 months. If at any point in my training, I lost a week of running, I would probably be done and have to consider another marathon. Marathon runners do not happen by accident, they are grown over weeks and weeks of preparation. 20,000 people will participate in the White Rock Marathon and each one of them will have dedicated hours and hours of training. It simply is a necessity.

In a Christian’s  life, we are called to be disciples to Jesus, some have even called Christians athletes for God. And though our salvation isn’t riding on it, our growth as a person and as a light for the world depends on us training ourselves in Christlikeness.  The disciples of Jesus spent three intensive years learning at the foot of Jesus plus received the power of the Holy Spirit before they were able to fully live out their apprenticeship to Jesus. Paul tells us that he spent three years in Arabia before starting his ministry. Training is essential for those who wish to become disciples to Jesus.

For a Christian, there is work to be done to train ourselves to be servants to Christ. As diligently as people train for the marathon, that is how diligently we, as believers, should train for our life with Christ. We should discipline ourselves through prayer, fasting, service, study, silence, and worship. Just as I understand more and more what my body is capable of doing, I, as a believer, should more and more understand what my spirit is capable of learning and doing. I am an athlete training for a marathon but I am also an athlete for God.

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