On June 9, 2018, undefeated Justify won the Triple Crown of horseracing. When this magnificent colt crossed the finish line in first place at Belmont Park, he earned a place in history as one of only thirteen horses who have won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes in the same season.
It seemed to me that this would end his racing career. In fact, several media reports stated that his owners had signed a $75 million dollar contract for breeding rights. But, then something shocking happened.
On June 14, just five days after entering horse racing’s most exclusive club, Justify returned to training at Churchill Downs. The owners said that Justify would be entered in more races, so he needed to stay in shape.
It reminded me of professional athletes who win the Super Bowl or the World Series, and return to training the next day. When asked why, they all agree that they had worked too hard to get their body in shape, and they did not want to lose it.
Possibly you recall 1 Timothy 4:8 NLT, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come." It is good stewardship of the only body you will ever have in this life, to keep it healthy. But that Scripture looks beyond this mortal life into our eternal life.
Continued training is a good idea. No matter your status in life, you can always improve. This is true in our natural life and in our spiritual life. It was NBA coach Pat Riley who said, “There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.”
College basketball coach Lou Holtz said, “Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” World acclaimed soccer player Pele said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, sacrifice and most of all, love for what you are doing or learning to do.”
And it is true in your spiritual life, too. No matter how many sermons I preach, the next day, I am back in the Word, back in prayer, back into my study hoping to find deeper insight into the mind and heart of God.
Many people like to take time off from the Word. Or they may feel that a one-hour service on Sunday morning is enough. Others might reach a certain age and decide they can avoid Bible study and prayer. But that is a mistake. Yes, it does take time to study and pray. Yes, it does interrupt daily routines, but listen to Hebrews 12:11 ESV, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
No matter our age or accomplishments, it is never time to stop spiritual training in the Word and prayer. In his last book, “Nearing Home,” well-known evangelist Billy Graham shares his experience as a ninety-three year old house-bound minister. Can you imagine how much Bible knowledge he would have accrued over the years? You would think that he could set the Bible aside and just enjoy his latter years. Not true!
In Chapter Ten, Billy Graham tells about inviting a local pastor to come visit him each week, and to share his scriptural insight and revelation. The modern world’s best-known evangelist, continued to train his spirit for greater knowledge.
How about you? Are you ignoring your spiritual training? I encourage you to get back into the Word in a daily pattern of prayer and Bible study. It’s good for your soul!