Photo courtesy & David Castillo Dominici
Photo courtesy & David Castillo Dominici

“Congratulations! You trained for this.”

We were sitting on the floor, my running buddies and I, hanging on every word our coach shared. It was our final Saturday before The Race. For many of us, it was our first 5K race. For twelve weeks we had braved messy weather and scheduling conflicts and shin splints. We had learned first-hand what our coach meant when she said, “Just getting to the starting line is the hardest part.”

Now, we were almost there.

“There will be those who start out fast, but then you’ll see them walking later in the race. Don’t be one of those people.”

Like seed springing up on rocky ground, I thought.

“Hold your pace,” she continued. “You’ve been training long enough to know your speed. Find the people you normally run with and keep pace together.”

Encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day draw near, I thought.
“Most of all, have fun.”

The joy of the Lord is my strength, I thought.

I learned many things from that twelve week training program. About perseverance; about camaraderie. But the one that surprised me the most is the one that should have been the most obvious.

Training matters.

Photo courtesy & Stuart Miles
Photo courtesy & Stuart Miles

Until that moment, I always believed that if you were a runner you simply laced up your shoes and ran. Sure, I had friends who talked about cross-training and weekly mileage charts and workouts. But that was only for the serious runners. It never occurred to me that they trained not because they were serious runners; they were serious runners because they trained.

Suddenly, I was a serious runner, too.

I learned quickly that those who cross the finish line strong are not those gutting it out on raw talent alone. Rather, it’s those who have honed their natural abilities through practice and preparation. Seeing only the flash of brilliance at the finish line is a bit like admiring the flash of an astonishing flower without stopping to ponder the soil in which it grows. True gifts grow over time.

Maybe your natural talents have nothing to do with running. I’ll let you in on a secret: neither do mine. But whatever talents we do have are given to us unhoned, like raw running ability or the seeds of that astonishing flower. God has entrusted us with something of great potential, but that potential will never be realized if it is not properly trained. What’s more, God calls us to not only develop our physical talents, but our spiritual talents as well. “Train yourself for godliness,” Paul wrote to Timothy, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8a). & Arvind Balaraman & Arvind Balaraman

God instills the gift of potential godliness in each one of us. This gift gives us the knowledge of Christ not only as our savior, but also as our partner. He is the one we try to match, stride for stride, as we cross life’s starting line. It is his voice we listen for as we navigate the course. It is his persistent encouragement we cling to in the dark stretch of the race.

When nurtured over time, this hint of godliness develops (slowly) into the likeness of Christ within us. Similar to a physical seed that has the potential to grow into something beautiful, so this spiritual seed has the potential to grow into something greater than we can envision. Such growth, however, takes work. It takes intentionality. Paul does not say simply to become godly. “Train yourself for godliness,” he says.

As Christians, we train for more than the 5K race next weekend. We train for the race to eternity. We should not leap from the starting gates unprepared. Nor should we leave our gifts encased as seeds. We are called to develop the physical gifts God has given us in this life. And we are called to grow our spiritual gifts into the promise of the life to come.
In God’s kingdom, training matters.

Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate admissions for Purdue University and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. Now that she finished her first 5K race, she also calls herself a runner. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at and @minimustard.

Cindy K. Sproles

Cindy K. Sproles is a speaker, author, and conference teacher. She is the co-founder of and and Christian Devotions Ministries. Cindy is also the co-founder of WRAMS (Write Right Author Mentoring Service) where she works with Lori Marett and Ann Tatlock in mentoring writers). Cindy is a best-selling, award-winning author with two of her latest novels being named Novel of the Year by the Christian Book Market. Cindy has her hand in various projects but her love of teaching new writers stands above the rest. She is an Appalachian-born and raised gal, proud of her heritage and happy to share it at any time. Cindy lives in the foothills of East Tennessee with her husband and son.

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  1. Janet, thank you for drawing the parallels between running, God’s word, and our lives. You are a gifted writer and you help expand my understanding of God’s love and design for my life through you writing. Blessings on you!!!

  2. Clearly you have been working hard on the soil in your writing garden because it seems to be blossoming with brilliance. It takes a God-given gift to connect the everyday ordinary instances to the heavenly messages of eternity. Thank you for infusing something as monotonous as running with such beautiful inspiration.

  3. Another wonderful opportunity to think about my faith, with your insight as the base. You always do such a fabulous job of taking every day activities/tasks and helping us to see God’s plans and messages in them. You help my faith grow each time you share a writing. Thank you for sharing your skillful writing talents and your faith all wrapped up in one delightful anecdote.

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