Below is a column I wrote for Grandin Media, reflecting on the ways that my training for a summer triathlon is a lot like building better spiritual habits:
A few years ago, I came across a book entitled Fully Alive by Ken Davis. I’m not sure what I expected from the book except that I knew it represented an evangelical Christian quoting St. Irenaeus when the late Bishop of Lyons said that “The glory of God is man fully alive.” What I found was Davis’ journey toward greater health by training for and competing in a variety of triathlons.
As I read through his book, it occurred to me that Ken Davis is as old as my father. I wondered if he could do a triathlon, why couldn’t I? I found a half-length triathlon that I’ve competed in the past two summers, and in August I’ll be doubling my distance from the past couple of years.
When I tell people that I’m a sort-of triathlete now, I get some interesting reactions. I’m not exactly in “triathlon shape.” Twenty plus years of youth ministry featuring all-you-can-eat pizza, chips, hot dogs, and cookies, as well as late nights and erratic travel have left their mark on me.
My wife had serious concerns I wouldn’t survive the 350-metre open water swim that was a part of my first triathlon (and I can’t say I blame her). But much like Ken Davis’ story, I’m trying to write a chapter of my own story that will allow me to feel healthier and improve my race time and endurance.
But it’s hard. Youth ministry food is what it has always been: sweet, deep-fried, and delicious. Some of the longer days make it hard to get out of bed early enough in the morning to get a proper workout in. It becomes easy to compromise, and I can expect that when race day comes along, my deficiencies or improvements will reflect how much I’ve lived up to my own resolutions in this area.
One of my realizations this year has been how much this struggle to train is a metaphor for the spiritual life.
Follow the link below to read the rest of the column…