The likes of the Christian walk have long been compared to a race. (See 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2 and Hebrews 12:1 to see a few examples.)
I've always envisioned this as a lifelong marathon. I've only recently even slightly wanted to run a marathon just to compare the experience. Blisters, chaffing, shin splints, no thank you! But, hello, runner's high, finisher and goal reaching.
Anyway, I watched several Olympic events that made me rethink this whole marathon thing. I watched diving. One dive. Five seconds. Over. Then wait for the next round.
I watched the ten meter dash. Seriously, three seconds, maybe and done. Winner announced. Second place stinks. No more chances.
Quite possibly the training phase of our lives is the marathon. These runners and divers train just as hard as the marathon runners, volleyball players and the softball team who have 26 miles, sixteen points and nine innings to prove their stuff. Here falling behind early or a lame start is not as detrimental as a slight delay (invisible to the naked and untrained eye) off the starting block.
Take Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete. His swims didn't last that long. His training has lasted a lifetime and even after these victories, he will continue to train if he wishes to compete. In all certainty he will devote the rest of his life to a sport that he loves and has become a champion of.
In my walk, I train hard. I stay in God's Word daily, take control of my thoughts and have learned to cry out to Jesus before picking up the phone. I used to see these things as staying on the marathon course.
Now I might be seeing them as training for the short battles in between.
A phone call brings a diagnosis that threatens to bring worry and fear. Was I on the starting block in correct form?
The checkbook is red when I thought it was black. Are my first strides long and strong as I've practiced?
That certain invitation never arrives. Am I in the right uniform?
A sick child interrupts a carefully laid out day. Do I crumble to the ground or fight for the lead?
When this event is over, I begin training again. I celebrate the victories and use the rest to fuel me, push me harder toward my goal just like the Olympians.
"If a man cleanses himself, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work...Be prepared in season and out of season." 2 Timothy 2:21 & 4:2.
Whether it's track season or not, Olympics or not, I want to be prepared!