By Erin Bowman
A couple of years ago I listened to a talk given by a scientist who had studied Olympic runners to find out what made a gold medal Olympian. In his research, he found a commonality not in their genes, but in their lifestyles. These elite runners filled their childhoods with running. They would run to school, run home for lunch, run back to school, then run home again. After getting home from school, they would then literally run around doing their chores. On average they spent 4 hours a day running, not all at once, but spread throughout their day. Now think about how much activity you get in a typical day. Even if you have a workout routine, I bet you are still humbled by these kids. This scientist discovered that the way these kids lived did more to prepare them for being Olympians than any training program could. They led a life infused with running. It wasn’t just a training exercise that they fulfilled. It was a consistent, daily practice that happened a little bit at a time, all day long.
What if the same is true of our spiritual lives? When we look at the lives of David, Mary, the disciples, and many others, we see how being with God was a part of who they were. As a boy, David takes on Goliath knowing that God would be with him. David writes psalm after psalm, crying out to God in both anger and joy, but always reflecting how David was feeling and what he needed. Mary’s sister Martha criticizes her for failing to help her prepare the meals and the home for Jesus and his followers, but Mary chose to spend time with Jesus, listening to him and getting to know him better. The disciples spent three years following Jesus around, eating with him, walking with him, and talking with him.
Like those kids who ran so much every day that it was part of who they were, so these saints spent time with God. They didn’t do it as an obligation or some training regimen. They did it to know God better. They also didn’t do it in compartmentalized doses on a Sunday morning or in a prayer before bed, but rather in small quantities throughout each day.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the thought of this type of relationship with God sounds both scary and freeing. There is a certain sense of safety in the checklist I’ve created for my “training regimen with God”: Have a quiet time every morning, go to church every Sunday, pray for my neighbor…. But what if instead of compartmentalizing God to certain situations, I invited Him to be a part of my entire life throughout my day? What if as I take a walk, I thank Him for the beauty of the birds that are singing? What if as I enter a grocery store, I ask Him to show me if there is anyone that He wants me to say a kind word to? What if when I remember an old friend that I haven’t talked to in a while I stop and pray for them and then ask God if I need to reach out to them? What if I took the time to be aware of God’s presence with me throughout my day no matter what I was doing?
I don’t want to just go through a checklist for the Christian life. I want my relationship with God to be so intrinsic to who I am that I can’t help but follow Him. We know that we can’t just use willpower or head knowledge to achieve this. But we also know that we have been given “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph 1:17), and that we have been given one another.
Will you join me in asking the Holy Spirit to draw us closer to God? Will you encourage me to turn to Him in multiple consistent small ways throughout my day so that I can develop a gold medal faith? And will you allow someone to do the same in your life?