Training vs. Trying

| 21 October 2020

“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10

As I’ve been watching my beloved Padres this past year and dreaming of the future that might be, I’m always struck and reminded of probably the greatest Padre of my early childhood, Tony Gwynn. Now, I don’t need to go into all the statistics but one of my favorites is that Tony Gwynn over the course of his career had 45 4-hit games and only 34 two-strikeout games. Tony was incredible at making contact with the baseball, even when it was coming at 100 miles-an-hour. So, what made Tony Gwynn so special as a hitter? It all started with preparation and training. He was famous for spending countless hours in the batting cage working on his swing mechanics and studying film. Without training and preparation, it’s impossible to do something as difficult as hitting a baseball with any type of consistency. 

As we see in the life of Daniel, if we want to respond in faith to the curveballs life loves to throw at us, training and preparation are required. When Daniel hears about the decree that had been published, his first response was to go and pray, giving thanks to God, just as he had always done. Daniel responds in faith to the challenge life had thrown at him. How do you generally respond to a crisis? Is your first response like Daniel’s, being grateful and seeking the Lord for comfort? If we want to be prepared for the game, it requires us to train. 

Training is the intentional engagement of practices and habits that move us towards godliness. It is wholly different than trying to achieve something with our existing skills, knowledge, or structures. It is not picking up a bat, it’s spending the hours of consistent, sustained effort moving in the same direction, towards God. As Paul reminds Timothy, “[T]rain yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things” (1 Tim. 4:7-8). So, how do we train? It’s the practices like prayer (make sure to see Monday’s devotional for some tips on fixed-hour prayer) and consistent devotion to Scripture that build our relationship with God and help us move towards Jesus. The more we move towards Jesus and build our relationship with Jesus, the more we will find ourselves living, responding, and running to Jesus when life throws us a curveball. 

Pastor Seth Redden
High School ministries