Monday April 21, 2014

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An Olympic-style faith

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I spent my lunch hour watching a men’s moguls race from the Winter Olympics. 

Each run lasted approximately 30 seconds and each skier got four attempts at the course. At best, each of competitors had two minutes to fulfill their dreams.

Everyone likes the celebration and the fame that come with success. In fact, I have heard that one of the best times to own a sports related business, like a gym or a ski hill, is around the time of the Olympics. Watching others succeed causes us to want to accomplish similar things. We are inspired by the result.

However, we only get to see the two minutes and (possibly) the celebration that goes with them. What we do not see are the years of training, sacrifice, injuries and behind the scenes work that went into those two minutes. Not surprisingly, I have also heard that most of those who are inspired by the Olympics quit their newfound exercise program within three months. 

The training is way less fun than the celebrating, but, if you are going to be ready for your moment, you have to prepare beforehand.

Similarly, spiritual outcomes are dependent upon whether we have prepared ourselves ahead of time or not. For example, Timothy is told, “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7 and 8). 

The end result will depend on his current actions.

Jesus indicated that our most beneficial spiritual training will be done outside of the spotlight. Giving to the needy should not be “announced with trumpets… to be honoured by men.”  Rather it should be done “in secret” and then “Your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1 to 4). 

Our prayer times, rather than being public displays, should be private conversations (verses five to 15). If you are fasting and meditating, don’t tell everyone. Dress as you normally would and do what you would normally do. It is not about an outward show, but an inward devotion (verses 16 to 18).

The problem is that is it easy to be drawn into “the show.” It is tempting to put our best two minutes of spirituality on display for all to see. However, real change comes about in the quiet discipline of following God’s lead every day. 

God changes my heart, not in the spectacular moments that everyone sees, but rather in the quiet times that only he sees. 

The celebration is always dependent on the preparation done beforehand.

When your moment comes, will you be ready?


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