Spring Training for Christians
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.
1 Corinthians 9:25
If you love to watch college basketball as I do, you are probably aware of the Michigan Wolverines’ incredible journey to and through the Big Ten Conference tournament this year, with their harrowing escape from an aborted airplane takeoff, to a team decision to come to DC anyway, arriving two hours before game time, playing in practice jerseys without their regular equipment, with their band using borrowed instruments—and then beating the odds to win four games in four days against higher-seeded opponents and emerging as the Big Ten champions. What an amazing story of strength following on the heels of a shared adversity! An inspiring story.
One wonders: does adversity heighten teamwork, strength, motivation? Were the trials of the trip—the plane accident, the escape, the debate about canceling, the loss of sleep and late arrival—keys to the team’s success? Maybe. But individuals on the team have to be physically ready and know how to play the game first, before any sort of shared experience like this is going to help. Individual preparation and team practice are part of the equation—hours upon hours in the gym, pumping iron, taking practice shots, honing skills. These are all necessities. Without those basic building blocks, no amount of extra motivation is going to lead to success on the basketball court.
There’s an obvious parallel here to our spiritual lives and our ability to fulfill the Great Commandment. Studying the scriptures, learning about them, trying to apply their lessons to our own lives, denying ourselves of certain temptations, and experiencing hardship are all ways we can practice for faith and build Christ-like life skills. Lent is often called “Spring training for Christians.” Let’s get to the gym!
Appointed readings for today: 2 Kings 4:18-21, 32-37, Psalm 17:1-8, John 11:18-44