God speaks supremely through the Bible. However, using the Bible as the foundation, God can also speak through self-reflection as we align our experiences against Scripture. This article aims to challenge you to reflect on your own walk with God. I want you to wrestle with the question of, “How can I make Jesus part of every aspect of my life?”
The vehicle I am using for this story is my recent experience of completing an Ironman Triathlon. This is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run. I found this whole experience to be a life transforming event, not because I beat my body into shape but because of the profound lessons I learnt through reflection on how Jesus was part of this. Read, enjoy, reflect on this journey and apply it to yours.
A dream is shaped into an act of worship
“You should reward yourself after your Masters Degree.” Caitlyn said enthusiastically. “What are you going to do? A holiday?” Reflecting and giving thanks to God for achievements attained, through God’s strength, is something I have not done well. So when I was asked by this work colleague how I would celebrate graduation from two years of intense study, I had to think.
For several years I had wanted to attempt an Ironman but poor health and excuses had been a bigger barrier than the 226km distance. They say a dream is an idea without a plan. Now, with this prompting from Caitlyn, I had started to shape this dream into a goal.
But how does God fit in?
Preparing for an Ironman triathlon can become a ‘god’ in itself. The hours of planning, preparation and commitment that goes towards an Ironman can become an all-consuming god: a Master instead of a slave. I have seen this in many Ironman competitors and elite athletes I have worked with.
The challenge was how can I make this event an act of worship? Romans chapter 12 explains we are to make our lives a “living sacrifice.” I was searching for ways to make my “graduation reward” an act of worship. And while the Ironman was meant to be an act of personal growth, doing the race also linked into raise the profile of a Christian mission, Mission Aviation Fellowship. The bottom line is that I wanted this Ironman to be more than a personal self-obsession. It had to be shaped into something that focused on Jesus, as Lord of all, and connecting His community.
Standing on this side of the finish line and looking back on this journey, these are some specific self-reflections:
Training with a focus: When all of life becomes an act of worship then everything comes into clearer focus. Training became a living sacrifice with prayer at the start of each session for MAF. Having this nucleusreally helped me get out the door for those difficult, cold and dark training sessions.
Perspective: do your best, take it seriously but don’t forget to keep it in perspective. The Ironman is a big commitment. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for an 11 hour sporting event. You have to take it seriously or you won’t make it. Being 2km out in the open ocean is not the place to find out your swim training or commitment was lacking. However, it is just a sporting event.
I was chatting to my neighbour at Tree Tops Resort on race week. He explained he was in Cairns, not on a holiday or for a triathlon, but because his wife had terminal cancer. It puts into perspective a swim, bike and run. In many ways this perspective can be seen in every aspect of life. Compared to a relationship with Christ everything pales into perspective. The key is to put each of life’s situations into this perspective. Take life’s events seriously, do your best but don’t lose sight of a relationship with Christ.
Do it all for His glory: The size of what you do is not the important thing. Whether it be a little triathlon, study at Bible College, counselling a friend, or running a church, the main thing is your faithfulness to Jesus. It is how you make it an act of worship that counts. For example, there are people who could run churches, yet do it for their own glory. In the same way giving someone a cup of water could be a huge act of worship because it is done in the name of Jesus. The size of the action does not matter. Your motivation does.
Reflecting on each of life’s experiences and searching for ways to make all of life a living sacrifice is a life-long search through the Scriptures.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html