Several people in our congregation would identify with the term "training". One person has been challenged by a daughter to participate in a Triathlon. Another has exams that are on the horizon. I have learned that I have to keep up my exercise just to tread water in the whirlpool of life. We are in training.
In preparation for battle or other exercises our military men and women train continually. Athletes train repetitively so that they will learn their craft so well that it becomes 2nd nature. Paul often expresses the Christian walk in the context of a race or athletic event because Paul realizes that we have a destination and an eternal goal. We are in training!
In The Message, Jeremiah gives us God's words saying ... "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned
out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the
future you hope for." If God has got plans for us, we need to do all we can do to follow and seek the future that God has so graciously prepared. How do we get there?
First, we realize that the plans are God's and the plans are good. In order to follow God's plans we must place our plans as a secondary priority. When I go to the house after a days work I don't often say ... "WOW, I am looking forward to getting on that bike and riding 14 miles." I must forget what I would rather do and do what will train my body to become more healthy. Often it hurts. But God designed me to need this work to be more able to function on a daily basis. The short-term pain is worth the benefit of the long-term gain. God's plans and designs challenge us and sometimes we must make painful choices. But they are God's plans and they are good.
Second, we realize God's plans have an eternal nature. God is preparing us for a future. That future is with God and He is forming us into solid citizens of the Kingdom of God, both now and in eternity. To become contented citizens of God's Kingdom, we must continually grow, train and learn. It is both our responsibility and our blessing to become more cognizant of the good things God has for us. The first time I traveled to Brazil I just went. Because of this I had significant discomfort and made many social mistakes. So the next time I learned about the country and also reflected on the mistakes I made on my first trip. I learned, and the 2nd trip was a blast.
Finally, we understand that this world we live in is our "boot camp." We let ourselves think this place is all there is. God reminds us that eternity and our future with Him is like the ocean and our time here is only a grain of sand. God's Kingdom and God's place is far more real than the world we travel through every day. So ... train hard ... learn well ... strive ... press on toward the goal God has prepared. To quote the Emperor on Star Wars ... "It is your destiny!" Randy