I have a love-hate relationship with running… no, make that a hate-hate relationship. Although running was one of the hallmarks of my NS vocation many years back, I never experienced the oft-mentioned “runner’s high”. In my opinion, it has always been an exercise with lousy returns, I mean, go through 10km of torture to lose the calories gained from one plate of chicken rice? Sounds like too much effort and time wasted, doesn’t it?
However, studies have shown that regular physical activity carries many more benefits than burning calories and losing weight. Regular physical activity is associated with more energy, a better mood, less stress and better sleep. A US television station, WUSA9, stated in an online article:
“In the best moments running challenges you, strengthens you and boosts your self-esteem. At other times, running exhausts you to the core and can even makes you feel a little emotional. If you keep up with training there are far more good days than bad on the road or trail. No matter what don’t be hard on yourself after what feels like an unsuccessful run. The fact you got out the door is a win. Just do your best and stay with your plan.”
In a way, spiritual disciplines sometimes feel the same. There are days where our hearts and minds are so caught up with the busy-ness of life, that reading the Bible becomes a hurried and distracted affair. Our eyes complete scanning the passage even before our hearts
have settled down, and we wonder why we even bothered to go through the process. Like what the article said, if we keep up with training (in righteousness), there will be far more good days than bad, and the fact that we still wanted to pursue our daily devotion is a win.
“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 (ESV)
The aim of practising spiritual disciplines (which include praying, fasting, worshipping, serving, learning, etc.) is godliness. As we continue to learn, pray and worship, we experience the joy of being close to God, and the more we experience God, the more we recognise His Hand in our lives.
It takes intentionality and perseverance to walk closely with God. Marathon runners prepare themselves for the race by training with increasing distances – there is some form of training plan before the event. When it comes to spiritual disciplines, a devotional plan or prayer plan (which group of people we want to pray for each day) helps. So does a fixed time or setting, e.g., on the morning commute to work.
It will not be easy; many things compete for our time and attention each day. But we do this not by our own strength, but by constant dependence on God. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
It is my prayer that each of us will keep on “keeping on”, that we may grow in our faith and walk with Christ. Press on, brothers and sisters-in-Christ!
By brother Simon Koh