Keeping the Faith

Olympic Training vs Spiritual Training

Some of us rolled out of bed early last Monday morning and watched Jamaica’s Usain Bolt stride across the finish line to take gold in the men’s 100m sprint.

I didn’t.

The alarm was set with good intentions, but a few extra minutes of sleepy contentment prevailed. As I slept in those 20 minutes, achieving little more than dribble on the pillow, the aptly surnamed Bolt was achieving fame in a measly 9.63 seconds (Just for the record, I DID muster the wakefulness to watch Sally Pearson’s early morning gold last week, and wasn’t it worth it?!).

Ridiculousness! How do they do it?

Hubby recounted the feat as I prised my eyelids open (he’s the one with the drive in our household). And I thought, that’s how long it takes me to butter my toast. While I’m buttering my toast, Bolt’s winning gold. We’re clearly from different planets, Bolt and I.

The reality is that behind those 9.63 seconds on the track are hours, weeks, years of solid training.

The same can be said of all Olympic athletes – whether they attain that glorious gold, silver or bronze, or if they fall at any rank beyond. Australia is a case in point – just because we’re not hauling gold like we’ve done in the past shouldn’t diminish the respect and awe we hold for the amount of work behind each athlete’s efforts.

We’ve all become commentators on the form of Australia’s Olympic team lately. C’mon team! Why are you limping along with a medal tally as lean as your athletic little bods? We’re shocked, we’re outraged, we’re sorry, we’re confused and we’re a bit embarrassed about Australia’s inability to net the gold this time ‘round.

My favourite observation came via Facebook and through someone I don’t even know (friend of a friend, you might say). He wrote it up as his ‘status’:

“Don’t knock ‘taking silver’. That’s how most of our great, great grandparents managed to escape Britain for Australia in the first place.”

(Chuckle) Well said.

We all have dreams. We all have strengths and abilities. We’re all running a race with a finish line looming. The Bible is loaded with sporting metaphor, and the Olympic Games have certainly confirmed to me why that is. Athletes have to be some of the most disciplined beings on this grand old planet.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “…Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Our 9.63 seconds demonstrating godliness (love, patience, kindness, goodness…) may belie days, weeks and years of spiritual training. But isn’t that prize worth it? Wait on, you say, what in Zeus’s name is spiritual training? I reckon it’s as simple as giving attention to those areas that have eternal weight. Forgiving others. Reading the Bible. Praying. Demonstrating unconditional love. Choosing your words. Exercising that faith muscle.

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” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Time to step up the training regime?

As printed in The Examiner newspaper for Keeping the Faith column,
Monday August 13.


  1. Jack says

    Thank you Claire, a very thought provoking article. None of us are just spectators we are all running the marathon with the training plan worked out for us in the bible.

    • True Jack! I’m just stoked that we all win this race, because to say I’m “unfit” would be an understatement in the extreme!

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