Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
This week for the first time in over four months I was able to return to my gym. At first during lockdown I had tried to keep up with my exercise but as time has gone on I have become less determined and regular runs have been replaced with less strenuous walks. So, whilst it was good to get back to the gym it didn’t take long for me to realise that it was harder work than I had remembered before lockdown. It may take me a while to get back to my usual workout.
For the past four months most of us haven’t been able to exercise our faith in ways we were used to. The usual routines of meeting at church, going to Cool Christians or Youth Group, meeting up with others in Connect Groups or simply socialising with our Christian friends haven’t been able to happen. Perhaps at the start of lockdown, like me and my exercise, we were determined to keep going but as time has gone it’s become so much harder - online services and events, Zoom meetings and doing things alone have proved too much and as a result our spiritual lives become a bit flabby.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth he compared the Christian life with that of an athlete. He says that to run the race, athletes need to exercise self-control - they have to train, they have to eat well, and they have to look after themselves. It’s the same for Christians, we can run around aimlessly which will probably achieve very little or we can be more focused and seek to grow more like Jesus.
This has been a hard four months for all of us and I hope that over the coming weeks we can all take some time out to relax, switch off and maybe go away. But soon the autumn will be in sight and we will have fresh opportunities to connect again. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on our walk with God and ask how we might use the coming season to exercise those spiritual muscles in a fresh and more focused way.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to run the race in front of me. Help me to focus on my race and my race alone. Help me to finish my race well and to one day know the joy of fullness of life with you. Amen.
Prayer Request: Pray for those Christians who are struggling in their walk with God at this time.