I am training for a Triathlon. It is the Mayan XTri. I’ve never done one before but it seemed like a good idea at time. When I reached 50 years old, I had a goal of climbing Ixta Volcano near my house in Puebla. It has an altitude of 17,159. I have now climbed it three times. I reached the summit only once, when I climbed with my son John. Although not on my list of goals to accomplish after age 50, racing in a Triathlon didn’t seem like that far of a stretch. There is one small problem. I don’t have a bike. I should have figured with the “Tri” part that there were three events in one. Swimming, biking and running. So I am training with the group of guys today at the park, but there is a probability that I will not actually race. Right now, besides not owning a bike or one of those skin tight triathlon suits, it is not a high priority to make the gargantuan effort to invest all the training time in order to avoid a premature death if I do the actual race.
It may seem odd to you, as it does to me, to train for something that I may not actually race in. Believe me, that same question keeps running through my head…or biking or swimming. Whatever the case, it is there. But it is fun to hang out with the Puebla team who are mostly other missionaries. I need the fellowship of a group of men and the accountability of exercise to stay in shape.
A verse of the Bible has serendipitously entered the race and is my constant companion:
Keep yourself in training for a godly life. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future. 1 Timothy 4:6-7
So I am reminded as a train that while we have a training schedule and goals for the Triathlon, it is even more important that I have a spiritual/personal development plan for my life in order to grow in godliness and holiness. One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible. It has been a long time since I did this. Last week I finished Leviticus and God tells the Israelites,
“Consecrate yourselves, therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Lev 20:7-8
While I may train for a triathlon in which I may not actually race, I ask the question, “Would God command us to do something if we could not actually accomplish it?” The answer is “No.” He says we should be holy like He is. Leviticus reminds me that He is the one who is sanctifying me and making me godly. He is the One who produces not only the willingness, but also the ability to do the things that please Him. (Phil 2:13) The flipside is that I also need to train myself in godliness, set myself apart for Him and live in obedience to His Word. I need to train. So what areas of your spiritual life are you training in this year? Who is helping you? Here is a document that I have used for several years to help me think through my own growth. Feel free to use it as it is or adapt it for your own use. If you have any questions about it, drop me a note.