Training vs. Trying Part One | The key into Spiritual Disciplines

For much of my life I’ve both struggled with and enjoyed a slightly inflated sense of ability. That to say, I’ve often imagined myself capable of many things if only I would simply try them.

Realising you can’t run

As I was growing my family would take a holiday almost every year to the same beach town in the south west of england. It was a beautiful village tucked into a cove with high cliffs on either side. The Beach was extremely tidal. At high tide the water would leave only 10-20 feet of sand but at low tide the water would reveal a 2+ mile stretch of wet hard packed sand.

One day, after spending many hours in the water as I returned to the beach at low tide I realised a commotion was taking place in the shallows.

A Young boy had been knocked unconscious and had been in the water. His sister was frantically crying out for someone to find their parents. As the life guard was attending to the boy I decided I could go and find the boys parents and make them aware. I took a rough description and a rough location (somewhere in the far corner of the now extremely long beach). I turned and ran very much as if someone’s life depended on it. I took off at a sprint.

A mere 40 seconds into this flat out sprint I noticed something begin to happen. Although the desperation and sincerity within me to reach the end of the beach had not flagged, my body was urging me to slow down. About a mile later I had reached the corner of the beach, I was exhausted into a mild jog, but still frantically looking for these parents. Eventually I found them and in the end the boy was OK.

But what had happened had etched itself into my young teenage ego. I had failed, I had wanted to reach them with all that I could will, but my body let me down.

Our lives in God can be like this, suddenly a need arises, a situation comes up, and we feel inept, ill-equipped and poorly prepared. We wonder, how does anyone do this? After all, I’ve been listening to teachings, singing worship songs, my heart was full of desire to be a part of Kingdom activity, and yet I cannot do the things I need to do, when the unexpected opportunity comes.

Sincerity may not be enough

We are full of good intentions, the urgency of the need, the desperation and sincerity to effortlessly live out the kingdom, but somehow we fail our own expectations. There are things with all sincerity we want to do, but we will not do them without training. At some point in our lives we come to the awful realisation that with all the sincerity and desire in the world, if we have not prepared we will not have what it takes. Not that we won’t be saved, but we will not be able to participate to the full extent in what God is preparing for us.

The problem is we have been trying rather than training. Immediately when anyone encourages us to prepare, or to repeat something, we are reminded of a common accusation that makes it’s rounds in protestant circles; That we are somehow falling into religion or works. Lets put that to bed once and for all; the only way we are doing that is if we feel like we are earning favour from God in what we are doing.

Training with Spiritual Disciplines is not about changing God’s posture towards us, but about changing our openness to the grace of God to transform us.

Disciplines aren't about changing God's posture towards us, but changing our openness to the grace of God Share on X

A means of Grace

Grace is another word we have gotten mixed up with; it is used over 100 times in the new testament. It is often understood as one of the grand themes in Paul’s writings. But often it gets used as a synonym for mercy or forgiveness. But in the New testament the word grace is only used about 10% of those times to refer to the justification part of salvation. Grace, in the majority of the rest of the cases is referring to the empowering presence of God to live out our kingdom vocations.

Grace is not just the way IN to the Kingdom, it is the way ON in the kingdom. It is not simply the door or a ticket into the kingdom, is the very air we breathe on the inside of the kingdom of live. Life giving and life sustaining, and we really need to know how to breathe.

The rest of this post (part two that is) will be posted next week! Don’t miss it by subscribing for a free weekly email below (you can opt out at anytime)

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