Saturday, July 30, 2022

A Self-Controlled Life

In 2019, I ran the Chicago Marathon. This was the race in which Brigid Koskei of Kenya broke Paula Radcliffe's women's world marathon record by 81 seconds.

It takes more than natural ability and dedication to win a world record. Plenty of runners have that. The difference with Kosgei was her rigorous training regime.  In Kenya, she trains over 9,000 feet above sea level. She stays in the Rosa Training Camp perpetually. Her training involves long and hard runs. She runs a marathon distance at least once a week. She rarely trains on a track, and even running on a flat road is the exception and not the rule. I imagine that other Kenyans her age are out partying while Koskei is in bed preparing for a predawn workout. That's no way to live if you don't care about breaking a world record. It's the only way to live if you do.

When we become Christians, it's sort of like training for a marathon. To say yes to God means saying no to your former loves. To love and serve God wholeheartedly, we have to wrench our desires from all that would keep us from obtaining God's best for our lives. It means not giving in to every desire or temptation. It may mean saying no to something we have every right to say yes to. It will mean weeding out the things Paul lists in Gal. 5:19-21: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism, hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, the constant need to get the best for ourselves only, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in our own little group, wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and "all that sort of thing." 

A famous man once said, "To be in good moral condition requires at least as much training as to be in good physical condition." As a runner, I must always keep this as my focus. I must never forget that "Bodily exercise is all right, but spiritual exercise is much more important" (1 Tim. 4:8). And, when I feel like the task is too much, I must remember that a self-controlled life is an exchanged life (Gal. 2:20). Rather than worrying out what I will face, I should work on releasing every area of my life to God's perfect control. Only as I abide in the Vine can the seemingly impossible of life become possible.