St. Paul talks about the discipline of the athlete in his first letter to the church in Corinth (9:24-27). I heard a pastor speak about this briefly on Sunday, and it came into my head as I was running earlier today.
Physical discipline is hard. To go and run, to do push-ups and sit-ups, or to do Bikram yoga (like Tammy does), is hard work. It is much easier to just sit. It is much easier not to be disciplined in what you do. The same is true with the food you eat. The Lord knows, I would rather have a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke, than most of the stuff I should be eating.
As much work as the athlete does to discipline and train the body, so there is just as much work for those trying to discipline and train the spirit. And it is not as readily obvious to the casual observer if the spirit is not well trained as if the body is not well trained.
Here is what I realized today: if you are wounded, the discipline and training are harder. Think of Colt McCoy last week. He was prepared and ready and then with a relatively minor blow to the back of his shoulder, he was unable to play. He will not be able to train in the same manor probably for a few weeks. I realized that as I am trying to put a spiritual life back together, that the spiritual wounds that I carry (some new and some very old) can hinder the training and the discipline I can receive.
Thursday night, Colt knew how to throw a football but he could not. Even today I know how to do many things and expect that some day I will get back in the game. I am not training aimlessly. But or right now, my spirit is resting and healing so that when the day comes, I will not have run aimlessly nor boxed as though beating the air, but I will have punished myself and enslave my body, so that God's proclamation shall not be in vain.