Theological Fitness Part Three: Training

I seriously got back into a regular workout routine about two years ago.  Having been raised in a family that values physical fitness, I have always lived a somewhat active life.  However, in my thirties it became apparent that my body was not as obliging to my requests.  It was time to get a little more disciplined if I wanted to feel as strong as I did in my twenties.  So I did the practical thing for a mother of three:  I started buying DVD workouts by experienced trainers.  The first workout I did was an hour long.  As I was chugging along I thought to myself, “You’re a little winded, Aimee, but you’ve still got it!”  And then I woke up the next morning.  Ouch!  Going down the stairs, “Ouch, eeew, ugh!”  That just told me I needed strengthening, I’m not in my twenties, and the exercise was working.  So, even in pain, I kept at it six days a week. For this installment of my theological fitness series, I want to get into the trenches of our metaphorical race (Heb. 12:1-2)—the experiences of obstacles and triumph.  First of all, we need good training.  I might be able to think of some good exercises, but I do not have the knowledge of putting together the most beneficial workout routine.  And I certainly wouldn’t go for a full hour unless I was being led.  Many of the workouts I do combine circuit training and super-sets.  I would not have thought of concepts such as combining emphasis on aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems or active rest.  But these trainers have a plan for me to follow. Often, these routines require each circuit to be repeated.  There are many benefits to this.  The first time through, my muscles and my brain are being introduced to the form.  The second time through is even more advantageous.  Now I already know the technique.  So if I’m told it’s time for the second set of UFC’s, or sissy squats, I know what in the heck that means and the technique involved.  At this point my muscles are reaching fatigue, and I am told that this is good because that is where “the magic happens.”  Muscles are being further toned on the second time through.  This point of muscle fatigue is also the point in the workout where I ask, “Why did I get myself into this?”  That’s when I know change is happening. Where am I going with all this?  Much of our conditioning in the Christian life is hard.  As biblical pastors, teachers, and mentors lead us we realize that we aren’t quite as spiritually fit as we thought we were.  When we face a challenge or obstacle, we find our strength and stamina are weak.  First we have to learn the form.  Theology has specialized language just like every other discipline.  For my workouts, I need to learn lingo such as skull crushers, spider push-ups, and suspended arm extensions.  When learning what the Bible teaches about God’s redemptive plan through Jesus Christ there’s all kinds of vocabulary involved such as propitiation, imputation, eschatology, and covenant.  Also, in many of our first experiences in trying to live according to the gospel, we fall on our faces.  We are in a continuous battle with sin.  But through repentance and prayer, the Lord uses even those times to strengthen us.  When we encounter our new vocabulary the second time, we know it and can learn deeper by the use of it.  When we encounter a similar temptation over, we are stronger and wiser to turn away.  Our trust in the Lord grows as we see how He has been faithful all along.  There will be many blessings throughout our Christian lives, but there will also be times when we ask ourselves how we got into all this.  And, sure, there are obvious moments in life where this question is our wisdom talking, telling us we should not be involved in a particular situation.  It is a discerning question.  Many times this question comes because we did not properly count the cost.  It demands us to estimate the value and purpose of our cause.  But make no mistake, we will find that the most valuable things in life bring us to fatigue.  That’s when we are toning—during the “burn.” Further meditation: Phil. 3:12-14, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, 2 Tim. 4:7