I just finished running an Olympic Triathlon. “Olympic” classifies the distance of the triathlon. It involves swimming 1500m (.93mi), biking 40k (24mi), and running 10k (6.2mi). It’s pretty intense and takes a fair amount of athletic ability (which I never knew I had in me til this summer).
One of my friends who I train and run triathlons with came along for the ride just to watch my race. On the ride home we talked about the intensity, fatigue, and motivation that came with this race. We then began pointing out all the parallels that these races have to the Christian life.
There’s obvious parralells that you could think of:
- Pressing on towards the mark
- Not being distracted, but focusing ahead
- The pain and suffering that comes through the journey
- Ups and downs. Sometimes feeling like you can’t go on and other times getting the 2nd wind and feeling good
There’s a more practical parallel, though, that I’d like to point out. Triathlon (and races in general) take a considerable amount of discipline to prepare. I’ve had to diligently get out and train (even when I don’t feel like it), I’ve changed my diet and cut out things I really like, and in general I’ve invested a lot of time and money into this.
By disciplining my mind and body in this way, I’ve seen it carry over to my spiritual life. There’s a diligence to talk to God and let him talk to me, even when I don’t feel it. My will power to say “no” to sin has increased. My mind is sharpened and on edge towards spiritual things.
Perhaps this discipline can be achieved through alternative means, but I’ve found athletics to be one of the most effective tactics among many things I’ve tested and tried in the past. As a bonus, I’m living healthier and feel great because I’m in the best shape of my life.
For those of you “over the hill” who say that your days of athleticism have passed, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been beat multiple in previous races by men and women in their 60s and 70s. So you see, there’s hope even for the older!
Seriously, though, our downfall in Christianity often comes down to our laziness which is inbred in us by the laziness of this culture. Having a high work ethic in your job doesn’t always count because it’s motivated by money and advancement. Outside of work, if we were honest, most of us aren’t as hard workers as we are in the work place.
However, athletics require self-motivation. So does the Christian life. There you go, my thoughts on why being involved in athletics can be/is beneficial to the spiritual life.