In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:1-2
You know when you’re about to go on a long car ride and, even past the age of twelve, your mom is still asking if you have to use the bathroom before you go? I think I’m old enough to know if I need to go pee or not… Of course, five miles in, I usually have to go. Sometimes being prepared goes against our very nature because we like to think we know better.
In this area of 2 Timothy, Paul tells us that we need to be prepared in season and out of season for what God is calling us to even if we don’t see what the end result will be. What does that look like? To help us understand this question a little better I decided to call in some help. These two beautiful ladies have different skills and hobbies but have something in common.
“Sophomore year at Florida College we had an endurance test to kick off the preseason. I figured since I know volleyball I think I’m pretty athletic and this is my second college season, so I’ll be fine. The day will come and I’ll just do it, no problem…. Well the day came, and I didn’t pass my endurance run. I was 20 seconds over the limit. If I would have just worked out over my offseason instead of slacking off and eating junk all summer I could have made it. 20 seconds determined my coach’s opinion of me which is, “she didn’t work out during the summer”. It made me feel horrible. I wasn’t putting the work in during offseason and it showed. To be a good athlete you should be always working and striving to be better. Practice makes progress.” – Merritt Smith (19)
“The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year, I was a powerhouse, training twice a day, for the upcoming season. I was so determined. My heart and mind were focused on doing and being the best I could for Christ, and it made all the difference. That season I, to everyone’s surprise, placed 2nd at States! I was overwhelmed with joy. The following year, I trusted too much in my abilities without preparation, so that year I wasn’t as in shape, wasn’t as dedicated, but still wanted to do just as well. I didn’t even place Top 5 at Regionals that season. When I reflect on it, I see that my heart was set on the wrong things, affected me physically and mentally. Instead of putting in the effort to accomplish my goals and focusing on who I should, Jesus, I focused on myself and put forth no effort but desire.” – Maggie Wheatley (19)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Merritt and Maggie both had a specific event they had to train for and a goal they had to reach. They knew that they had to be training during their offseasons to be ready for the real deal. As Christians, every day is the real deal. We need to be prepared and know how to respond to certain situations, difficult things we have to face, and even how we are to carry ourselves, making sure that everything we do is aligned with what is pleasing to God.
There is no offseason to kick back and relax without seeing repercussions later on. Paul is telling us that we need to be ready all day every day. Matthew 25:13 tells us, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour”.
While they could count down the days they had left to finish training, we cannot. I heard a spoken word this week and a line that stuck out to me was, “you were so focused on the finish line you stepped on a landmine”. So often we get stuck between being completely unfocused or being too focused on the things of the future that we pay no mind to the things of today and right now.
So go, read your bible to spend time with Jesus and not just to check it off your list. Spend time in prayer listening for His voice. Cut out the junk from your life that affects your “training”.