I made a decision recently.
When we found out that Amy was pregnant, we were overwhelmed with joy. We starting really thinking about what life with a child would be like: where would we put the crib? Who will we trust to babysit? How can we prepare Jiffy and Cinco to welcome the child?
This thought of preparation slowed me down. Our friends, April and Zach, just had another child (Emma with the supermodel hair). They are great parents. And they are exhausted. Being a parent, or maybe being a great parent, requires a lot of energy: late feedings, frequent changing, games and rocking and singing.
I realized that I'm not prepared...at least, not in that way. I don't have the energy to parent. I can try. I will try, of course, you have to. But an honest evaluation reveals that I'm on pace to fail.
So, I made a decision.
I wasn't going to just "try harder". I will "train wisely". I will pursue discipline in order to honor the responsibility that God has given me as a potential parent. So, I hit the gym: one day a week in October, three days a week in November, four days a week in December...slow, intentional, incremental steps. Training.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talks about training. He encourages the church to "not run aimlessly" and "not fight like a man beating the air." That image, the image of a man beating the air, flailing his arms, the scattered whirl of limbs that exemplifies the schoolyard brawl...that image stands in stark contrast to the image of the boxer, standing steady and ready to apply focused violence.
And Paul's not talking about exercise here, not really. The analogy is good, but the stakes are higher. As Proverbs 10 says: "The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot." We train with long-term, impactful, eternal consequences on the line...joy and blessing on one hand, the sorrowful rot on the other.
How, then, do we train wisely?