I watch the couple move across the dance floor with elegance and grace. I marvel at the assurance they demonstrate. Each step is carefully orchestrated to match the flow of the music. They paint a picture as they dance and it evokes a feeling of joy and pleasure.
I know these dancers didn’t achieve this level of excellence overnight. As I participate in dance lessons myself at the moment, I realize the hours of practice it takes to become proficient at the task. My early efforts are somewhat awkward and I need to focus hard to keep feet and hands in the correct places at the correct times.
Now in my third set of dance lessons things are changing. There is more ease and even some more graceful movements as I am more comfortable with what I am doing and have considerable more practice under my belt. I am even able to relax and just follow my partner without the immense concentration needed to manoeuvre each step sequence.
To do anything well requires time, effort, and training. The apostle Paul knew this as he speaks to young Timothy – “train yourself to be godly”. (1 Tim. 4:7b) Upon first reading of this verse I am taken aback – how do you train yourself in this area? Paul uses athletic images often in his writings and they are a good parallel for the Christian life.
As I Christian I do need to take the time and effort. like an athlete or dancer, to train for my task. I am not going to grow in the faith if I leave it to chance. A successful athlete is perpetually focused on the goal and training to do better. What does this mean for me in my Christian walk?
Spiritual training means spending time in God’s Word on a regular basis – reading it and studying it. Time in worship is essential as well as I draw strength from other believers. Spending time in prayer is needful to draw closer to God and seek His guidance in all things. It is considering how God wants me to live my life – in all circumstances.
Like my early dance moves, I know that my early efforts in Christian training will need some improvement. No one can easily run a marathon the first day they start running. It takes time to develop the strength and stamina for such a task. But the marathon run starts with moving in that direction – taking the first laps around the track. Gradually, with perseverance, athletic ability improves. I can’t expect to be fully trained in my faith walk in a day – it is a lifetime of learning and growing in Christ.
Remember it is God who is doing the work in us. He can make great things of our lives if we are willing.