Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
I Corinthians 9:25-27
I am in the beginning of my training regimen for the Avengers 1/2 Marathon at the Happiest Place on Earth. I must tell you, I’m sooooooo excited to run and high five the great Marvel superheroes that the Mouse now rules with an iron fist owns. I picture myself finishing with flare like Iron Man and raw strength like the Hulk.
However, as I’m starting to run regularly, I remember the days when I could run for quite some time and feel good about it. However, this time around, it seems like another emotion has taken hold. My perspective on training?
Well, friends, training sucks.
Training costs me something. It costs me through the stress of cardio and the soreness of my legs. It costs me in the hours I will put into it and the cost of saying no to certain food choices.
No wonder the Christian life has been compared to training as an athlete! Following Jesus is a lot like training for a race. We have to say no to certain activities in order to say yes to others. When we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, we say ‘yes’ to an abundance of life.
But it will cost us.
It will cost us if we choose to follow Jesus. If we follow Jesus the Messiah (whose only path to restoring our broken relationship was through the suffering of the cross), then we can bet that we too need to model this. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:16, the only path to reveling in God’s glory is through suffering.
Sorry Joel Osteen, following Jesus will cost us something and it will often remove the options of the standard American dream. Sometimes, God will call you to move from the house of your father like Abram or leave a profitable ministry like Jonah. Sometimes he will call us to stand as a prophet disregarded by everyone like Jeremiah. Sometimes we will even die before our dreams have been realized like Moses.
I have been confronted with this choice: Am I ready to give up certain things in my life? Am I ready to pay the cost of discipleship?