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Growing up, my best friend was an avid runner.  She actually liked doing it.  This was inconceivable to me.

I abhor running.  Every. Step. Agony.

And yet for years, I ran regularly. To what end?

Vanity.

That usually got me to about the 2-mile mark.  Shallow motives never get you past the burn.  But here’s the thing.  My friend ran competitive cross-country in both high school and college. She did things casual runners never did. Like setting a pace, plotting a course, measuring her progress, keeping to a daily training schedule, and sprinting during long runs just to amp things up a little.  She did these things because she had a goal in mind.  And unlike me, she was training to win.

She ran, I worked out.  We both watched every calorie.  Truth be told, when we donned our running gear, there wasn’t much to distinguish us from each other at the starting line.  But if I had tried to keep pace with her in an actual race?  I, the imposter, would have been found out by the 1-mile marker.

The longer I do this thing called following Jesus, the more I realize the significance of self-discipline.  The value of preparation, training and spiritual disciplines.  We all look good at the starting line.  Praise GOD, He’s made it so for every one of us.  But once this race gets underway, the rubber of our shoes quite literally meets the road, and we won’t be far into it before the pack begins to separate and we’re either going to be looking at a lot of people drawing up in front, or a lot of open road greeting us ahead. I like the latter.

I’m willing to put some hard work into having wide-open options in front of me.

Michael Phelps said it in an interview: “You’ve just got to stay in the pool longer than others.”

So here’s my question. 

What spiritual muscles did you exercise today?  And if you’re not feeling some after effects from your workout, you clearly didn’t put enough into it.

See you on the road.

You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! – 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NCV)

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