Training for the Race
February 17, 2021 | View PDF
I’ve never been much of an athlete. I did play baseball for most of my growin’ up years, and I bowled for a while in Jr. High and High School. I dabbled in Track & Field for 1 year, but was never really serious about it; likewise, with football and basketball, they were never really my “thing.” In the 8-9 years I played baseball, I distinctly remember how strict my dad was about game day. He didn’t talk much about what I ate that day, but his real pet-peeve was swimming on game day – THAT was absolutely forbidden because swimming takes so much outta you there’s nothin’ left come game time!
One particular event sticks in my memory, and I honestly don’t remember if it was open rebellion or an honest mistake, but I went swimming on a game day! I hadn’t peddled my bike ½ way across Grand Island to go to the swimming pool; instead, I peddled all the way across the city from close to the Veteran’s Hospital in the north part of town to L.E. Ray Park southwest of town by Stuhr Museum! I left about mid-morning, swam with my friends for a few hours, and headed home about 3:00. You can probably guess how exhausted I was that evening, both from the swimming and the long bicycle ride, and my playing reflected that. Dad was furious, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson.
Paul draws spiritual lessons from the world of athletics in his letter to the church in Corinth, as they were very familiar with what were called the Isthmus Games, which were held every other year, and were 2nd only in importance to the Greek Olympic Games. Paul talked to them about the importance of training and discipline in sports, and he made the correlation to training and discipline in our spiritual lives. He said that what was at stake was nothing less than, “a crown that will last forever!”
The Lord’s Supper is part of our spiritual training. Sharing this meal keeps our hearts and minds on Jesus, but it also keeps us fit for the race laid out for each one of us. It’s important for us to share in this meal to keep our spirits in shape so we’re not exhausted along the way, and then fall short when we’re called on to perform! We have a responsibility as Christians to be ready, willing, and able to do the work Jesus calls us to, and part of that readiness comes from being present at the Lord’s Table. If we are lax in preparing for the work we’re called to do, then the outcome could well suffer.
The discipline required to feed us physically is the same kind of discipline required to keep our spirits and our hearts prepared to live for Jesus every day. We are training every day for eternity with Jesus, and every day, every decision, every event in our lives should be part of that training!
Pastor Corey Jenkins
Sidney 1st United Methodist Church