I don’t like to miss church all that often. But next Sunday will be one of those weekends when I won’t be around. Instead, I will be completing a journey that originally began back in the spring. I will be making my second attempt at the Naperville Half Marathon. For those of you thinking (or saying out loud) that I am crazy, remember that I am only half crazy, because I didn’t choose to do the full marathon.
All kidding aside, for those of you who may have dabbled with running as a hobby, or maybe have run a 5K or two in your lifetime may know that running isn’t an easy habit to take up, and to run a half marathon, let me tell you, it takes an enormous commitment to train for such a long run. So, why do I do it? Why would anyone in their right mind choose to train for a race that will take me a little over 2 hours to complete? One reason of course was because I wanted to work on my personal fitness.
But another reason takes me back to Jim Mullins’ sermon from last week about getting closer to God by being in nature. I have always been an outdoor animal. I love to fish. I love to golf. I love to camp. But those things take huge chunks of time in one lump sum to complete, which I don’t always find the time for. But I can get out on the road for a quick 3 mile run and only be gone about a half hour. And that half our escape allows me to get away from the everyday grind, take in some fresh air, lose myself in the music coming from my iPod, and melt off the built-up stress from the everyday grind. It is a way that I can connect with God.
In the same way that it is important to train and keep up with training when taking on a half marathon, the same is true about training for everyday living in general. If we are going to be successful Christian people, we need to train for the things we will encounter on a day to day basis and how God intends for us to handle those things. Of course showing up on Sundays can be and should be part of that training, we need more. We need to dive into scripture on a daily basis.
To put on the armor of God is to know and study the Bible. I have heard many people on a regular basis say things like “the Bible is so old and outdated.” Sure it was written 2000 or more years ago, and there is no mention of smart phones, social media, or reality television. But I find passages all the time that still apply, even today. Take the scripture passages above. We can shield ourselves from the evils of this world by knowing and understanding the Bible. We are called to run the race of life with perseverance, just as Jesus persevered over death and the cross, and the scorn he faced throughout his ministry.
I’m ready to take on my race next weekend because of the blood, sweat, and tears of my training. In the same way, I am more prepared today than yesterday to take on the world because of the training I receive through my reading and study of scripture, and attending Sunday service on a regular basis. How’s your (life) training going?