Scripture: I Corinthians 9:19-27 (NIV)

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

As we mentioned yesterday, the life of the Jedi required a significant amount of training before one could be called a Knight, much less a Master. We saw Luke go through a lot of different trials and tasks on Dagobah as Yoda prepared him for his new life. We saw glimpses of the training that younglings went through in the Temple during Attack of the Clones. If rumors are right (and I try to avoid these things, so I have no idea how accurate they are), Rey’s training will be a part of the upcoming Episode VIII. Training is vital to get a Jedi in shape to be, well, a Jedi.

Beyond the physical, Jedi also had to train their thoughts and their emotions. As Yoda told Anakin, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Anakin couldn’t let go of his fear of losing Padme and eventually it destroyed him. The training wasn’t complete, which was one reason Yoda feared for Luke when he cut his training short on Dagobah. Then again, one could argue training is never complete, that you must at least maintain what you have gained.

We have to train ourselves as well. There are some that think that an occasional church service is enough to keep them in spiritual shape, but we know better. This world works on us every day, eroding our faith in God just like a river erodes the land. Over time, that faith can wither away without us even knowing it. When we try to rely on it in a dark time, it won’t be there. The connection will have been broken.

Paul talks about an athlete training to win the prize. We see folks every day running around town, trying to stay in shape or get ready for the next 5K or marathon. Training requires a regular routine, but it also requires us to push ourselves to continue to get stronger, to get better. That means daily Bible reading, that means being involved in small groups, it means times of prayer and meditation. Anything that can strengthen our connection to God needs to be practiced on a regular basis.

What is your spiritual routine? Is it part of your daily habits or is it more like something you do when you think about it? I encourage you, if you’ve let things slide, to dedicate the rest of this Lenten season to something you want to be better at. You have two more weeks–perhaps by Easter, you’ll have a new regular discipline!

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