Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Training Ground

It was February 24th. I was standing in a room at 12Stone with several members of the Leverage Community, singing "there's an army rising up" (from "Break Every Chain"...incredibly powerful) when I first heard the words: training ground. It was in reference to the house I'm currently living in, lovingly dubbed "Coopshine." I had a sense that the house is a training ground. But what did that mean? A training ground for whom? for what? I didn't know the answers to these questions, but when God speaks, I've learned to listen.

We moved into Coopshine just before the new year. As we sat around on New Year's Eve with some friends delegating a word for the year for each of our lives, I landed on "focus." Focus on God and everything else will fall into place. What that meant to me was keeping myself from committing to everything. As the year kicked off several friends made commitments to run a race - a marathon, half, or 5K. Normally I'm one to jump on board and achieve the goal, but I couldn't commit. It had something to do with the time commitment of the training...and something else? There was a feeling in me that something else was in store. I struggled with this because part of me wanted to commit. Everyone else was. And I'd be in ridiculous shape when it was all said and done. But I couldn't do it. This past Sunday I realized why. 

Kevin Queen was talking about Discipline, the final installment to a 3-part series on Self-Leadership (listen to it on the "12Stone Church" podcast on iTunes). He said, "It takes being at a destination we don't want to be before we see discipline is what we need." This hit me square in the face as I realized I'm so not at a destination I want to be at. Don't get me wrong, life is good. I have a stable job, live in a great house with amazing roommates. I have food to eat, a family who loves me, and am surrounded by amazing community. I am so grateful for these things. But I am not content. I can best describe it as a holy discontentment (which I first heard described this past summer in a talk by Matt Chandler on Philippians). It's a longing for more of God, to run after Him, never content with where you're at relationally with Him. He has so much in store! I don't want to stay at my current destination. And KQ is telling me discipline is what I need. He goes further to explain that where we neglect discipline is where we pick up "trying." We have an "I'm trying" mentality instead of a "training" mentality. He said, "If you're really serious about something, go from trying to training." Using the example of the CrossFit Challenge he said no one would go and expect to win on just willpower and positive thinking. They've gotta train for it! 

Enter: the training ground. I can't expect to pursue holiness without discipline. And discipline happens with training. When I left to go overseas in 2009, I took with me a copy of Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. I slowly worked my way through part of it...then stopped (a clear lack of discipline, ha!). I think it's time I picked it back up from the beginning...going all the way to the end this time. Because I'm living in the training ground. Requiring more time in Scripture. More time in prayer. More time in worship. God's been quietly speaking these into my soul for some time. I've been overlooking them because of the questions and frustration I've been voicing to Him. I'm seeing that my feeble attempts at freedom are nothing compared to what He offers. The fact that I don't feel free in my current destination is evidence of my lack of discipline. I have a sneaking suspicion that the freedom He offers me will feel a lot more free as I fully enter the training ground. Not for a marathon, but training in the pursuit of holiness.

1 Timothy 4:7-10 - Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, 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. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.