Thursday, February 19, 2009


I love the metaphor of training as it relates to the Christian life. The Apostle Paul uses this metaphor in 1st Corinthians, comparing our way of life to training for competitive running. Bishop N.T. Wright likens the virtues of Christianity to the scales and arpeggios of musical training. Whatever the framework, whether running, music, or riding a unicycle, I find it helpful to consider the metaphor of training for spiritual formation.

Did you ever notice, however, that sometimes the training does not resemble the performance? When I teach swim lessons, for example, I might spend two or three lessons at the beginning simply working on body position, breathing, and comfort in the water. No swimming. Why? Because if we don't get those basics down, there is no point in attempting to actually swim yet.

I think God does the same with us. We are so anxious to swim, but its all flailing and sputtering until He teaches us the basics. Swimming may very well be what God has created us to do, but we have to learn to float first. (By the way, if you want a great exposition on what 'the basics' of Christian living are, click the N.T. Wright link. It's long, but worth the time.)

I suppose this ties into my previous post about calling. Satan gets in our ear and pesters, Why aren't you swimming? I thought you were learning to swim? This doesn't look like swimming. This is a waste of time -- let's skip to the good stuff! What a lie. Let's do as Paul says, and run (swim) in such a way as to get the prize. This will mean training - not so glorious or glamorous, and maybe even confusing and counter-intuitive at times. But we trust our coach. We trust and so we train, with the promise that we will one day swim, run, play, be, and reign with Him in glory.


Sabrina said...

AGH!!! Reading your blog is so flipping weird!!! It's like you are me! Bleh, bleh! A wiser me, though. And calmer.
Great points. It's interesting to consider an injury, such as my broken bone, which stopped me training for a half marathon, in light of this wonderful and deep analogy; hmm. Also, the thought occurred to me that it's weird in training for a race, how many many miles I run over the course of the training period, in order to run a much smaller number healthfully and well.

Haley Ballast said...

You crack me up! Hmm... injuries and 'over-training' methods. Something to ponder!