Fit Us For…

“What are you training for?”

The middle-aged man leaned forward on the bench he occupied beside the running track.  I had just finished running my three miles and was stretching against the wall nearby.  For the last two and a half miles, he had been in the same spot on that bench every time I ran past.  Twenty-five times, I ran in front of him and he hadn’t moved from the spot.  In fairness, his attention was on his son, also running laps and a few wind sprints.  It turned out he had noticed me going past him all those times, too.

As I considered the answer to his question, a few drops of sweat fell from my face to the floor below.  I laughed nervously, hoping he wouldn’t notice–it is hard to act suave and cool when you’ve just run thirty times around the track as fast as your legs can manage.  As if a little sweat mattered.  Still, I quickly passed my sleeve over my forehead, forestalling any other droplets with the same destination in mind.

What am I training for?

The easy answer is that I want to run in the annual Turkey Trot 5K race coming up this weekend.  But, come to think of it, that’s not why I’m running tonight.

It’s not why I ran a couple of nights ago.  Nor, why I ran the night before that.

I would run if there weren’t a race for another six months–or a year.  I’m not training for some trivial little five-kilometer run along the city streets.

I took the plunge and attempted an explanation.

“I’m training for the rest of my life.”


Let’s see what my new friend had to say about that.  It was as close to the truth as any answer I had, anyway.

“Oh.  One of those.”  He sighed.  “You’re a health fanatic, aren’t you?”

I’m not!  I won’t be known as a health nut!

Anyway.  We batted the details of my fanaticism around for a few moments and I took my leave, walking my sweat-infused body out into the twenty degree wintry night.  I almost didn’t notice the chill, so wrapped up was I in the argument which was brewing inside of me.

Well?  What am I training for?  Come to think of it, what is he training for?

What are we training for?

He sits on the bench and watches other people run.  He’s training for something–not the same thing I’m training for, but he’s training for something. 

The implications of the thought are staggering to me.  Every moment, every second, I am in training.  Every step I take, every bite of food I put into my mouth, every minute I spend in bed–all of it training.

For good or bad, we are all training.

And no, this is not the fanatical voice of a health nut you are hearing.

I said the implications were staggering.  They still are.  The realization that I’m training physically with every move I make suddenly broadens to include all of life.

All of life.

Physical.  Emotional.  Spiritual.

When I snap at the Lovely Lady because I am unhappy with the way things are going,  I’m training.  When I ignore that man who needed me to notice his contribution to our conversation, I’m training.  Even when no one else is looking and I sneak a glance at that scantily clad woman on my computer screen, I’m in training.

Oh.  Is that more information than you wanted?  You didn’t need to know that about me?  Sorry.  It is part of what I’ve been training for, though.  All of my life.  You too?  Maybe not the exact same thing, but there is that one issue…

What are we training for?

I train physically nearly every day because I want to be in condition every day.  Not just on race day.

Every day.  For the rest of my life.

I’m suggesting that we need to train spiritually for every day.  Not just so that, like the old Christmas carol requests, Jesus will “…fit us for Heaven, to live with (Him) there.”

Every day, we need to be ready–to act, to speak, to think–as if we were already fit for heaven.

Right here.  Right now. 

What are you training for?

Is there any sweat dripping from your face?  Are you feeling a little out of place with the spectators sitting around, staying cool and fresh?

Good.  It’s a start anyway.

They’ll call us fanatics.  Maybe even nuts.

Perhaps that much will be true.

Tomorrow is race day.  And the day after that.  And the day after…

Time to get fit.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
(Luke 6:45 ~ NIV)

“…when I train in the gym now, I am not training to be strong or handsome–just better than I was yesterday.”
(Jean-Claude Van Damme ~ Belgian actor)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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