So I have to admit it I (Matt) am training for the Paris Marathon in April. I have hesitated to mention this before probably because of the accountability that will inevitably come with this post. As I have been training, it is amazing how many spiritual lessons there are to be learned from running long distances. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the process of training provides ample illustrations for my walk with Jesus.
I am in the beginning stages of my training and so I am focused on putting miles under my belt. This means that I need to finish my runs and not focus on time, for a person who has short legs and is used to running 3 miles at a timed pace, this is quite a change. Yet as I have began to re-train my mind and body for the long haul, to strengthen my legs and to let my body adjust to the effect of the miles to be ran, I have noticed that speed comes over time. I am starting to run faster and farther. Simply put, I focused on the basics, retrained my mind for the long run and changed the goal of my workouts in light of the race to be run in April.
Spiritually we need to do the same. We have to have a change of mindset, a re-training of our mind. The goal of life with Jesus is to be a disciple who trains others to be and to make disciples. I contend that this understanding of life with Jesus is not the normative measure of success in the church today. We gravitate towards the sprint: the dynamic worship service, great kids programs, church planting, the hit and run acts of service, radio and television preachers who tell us what we want to hear…the list goes on and on. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but if they are the goal, the measure of success for our churches and our lives as Christ followers then we are sprinting. Many of us are “spiritual sprinters”, we want it all now and after the initial burst of energy we fizzle out.
We are called to run the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. As we run our race we need to rediscover the basics of the spiritual marathon. We are called to be with Jesu
s in an intimate relationship, to imitate His life and given a new vocation as fishers of men (Mark 1). To run this race we need to retrain our minds and bodies to see the goal to be disciples who make disciples. To run the race like Jesus ran the race, like the disciples, like the could of witness and like the others who have gone before us. As we do this, we will see that all the other things fall into place, we will, by Gods grace, run faster and farther with and for Jesus, for His kingdom and for His glory.