Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Welcome to the Academy!

We have been investigating the importance of good practice and discipline, and we know that our Abbey, this heart’s cloister, must be a training ground, or it won’t be much of a monastery.  For us, life in Christ is much more than church attendance – it is our fitting into the Body of Christ, as living stones.  Our Divine Office is much more than daily Bible reading – it is being transformed  by the Word of God (Romans 12:2.)  More even than daily prayers, we are given to know the will of God, to pray according to that will, and to see the Kingdom of God come and His will done on earth as in heaven.

More than knowing about God, our high and priceless goal is to know Him, and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent. (John 17:3)  When we take these training goals out and look at them, we see that this will be a tough schedule.  We know that, to be fully prepared to win our race and receive the crown (1 Corinthians 9:24,) we will have to make a training camp of life itself.  Nothing less will win the day.  All the runners run, but we are after the prize.

Life can train us really well; we are faced with daily opportunities to overcome fear and to love beyond pain and to remain faithful when others flee.  Those are like the hurdles on the track, and in order to fly over them in the heat of the race, we have to do those difficult exercises that strengthen quadriceps and lengthen our stride and keep our hamstrings supple. 

Welcome to the academy, to the strict diet of grace and the endless round of exercises and practice laps that feel great once they’ve begun, ache before they’re over, and make us glad at the finish line. Ours is a really Good Coach.  If we will pay close attention and do according to His instructions, we will stand in the glory of His Presence, with crowns to lay at His feet.  This is a different kind of awards ceremony!  He will strengthen us with joy (Nehemiah 8:10) and develop in us an unshakable mental toughness (2 Corinthians 10:5.)   He will move us from the permissible to the beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23,) and that’s where champions are made!  We can trust Him with our lives.

It would be interesting to know how many good swimmers, even really promising Olympians, might have made an appearance in the pool with Michael Phelps and the other members of the much-decorated U. S. team.  How many sized up the requirements and left?  How many stayed awhile before deciding against the hard work with little immediate reward?  Were there some that  watched Michael swim and missed their slot on the team, comparing themselves with his ability?  It is a sad thought, but almost certainly true. 

Training begins in earnest tomorrow morning; let’s make sure that we know why we are here.  We want above all things to bear the image of Jesus Christ in the earth, and in Him, we will triumph!  (2 Corinthians 2:14)

World Champion Russian Women's Synchronized Swimming
Jesus de Blas, by permission

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