I have grown a lot spiritually in the last six years. Six years ago, I wandered into my first church service that I had attended in a decade or so. I knew instantly that the church I had wandered into was a place where God had wanted me to be. It’s amazing to have experiences like that.
In these last six years, I have become more attentive to my own spiritual life…and to the spiritual lives of those around me and the world. It’s not an easy thing to do…be attentive to one’s spirituality. I have learned to appreciate the season of Lent as a type of “spiritual training time” that, every year, I use as a timeframe to engage my spirit on a series of training exercises. Sure, giving up something for Lent is something that a lot of people have done for a very long time. But there are a myriad of other ways to challenge and grow one’s spirit. I enjoy finding different ways each Lent to challenge my spirit…writing, reading poetry, playing the piano (something I rarely do), focusing on being present and patient each day and with each person I encounter, finding more moments of solitude where I can challenge my soul to listen to God’s Spirit.
It’s amazing how one’s spiritual life can become stagnant without proper training. I know lots of Christians who try and focus on their spiritual growth all of the time throughout the year…through Bible studies or church attendance or volunteering. But I find that once a year, it is refreshing to find different ways to focus on spiritual growth…finding things to challenge my spirit that I otherwise wouldn’t normally do.
I think it can be likened a lot to training for a marathon. We are training our souls for staying the course…for growing endurance to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” as the Scriptures say.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:1-2
Just like when one trains for an actual marathon, one must challenge oneself to grow and develop an endurance to perservere in the race. So, too, must we find ways to train our souls to perservere in the spiritual race of life. It takes time. It takes prayer. It takes patience. It takes perserverence. It takes grace and love and the life of God within us to grow us into the spiritual beings we are called to be. And the reward at the finish line is the eternal and greatest reward…life with all the saints in the presence of our Creating, Redeeming, and Sustaining God. May you have a blessed Lent!
PS: This reminds me of how much I hope to train again for another race…I ran my first 5K in 2012…but have fallen out of my running routine. Next on my list: train for another 5K!