It’s thrilling to observe a saggy booty become sculpted buns of steel. To go from not being able to cook more than spaghetti to creating a gourmet Thanksgiving feast. To move from a self-involved apathetic person to a heart that has more compassion and seeks to serve others. Though many people value working out with a personal trainer to get the body they want, attending a culinary classes to become a talented cook, the value of spiritual training is often overlooked or underestimated.
As I’ve been blogging about the 10 things I’ve learned in 10 years with InterVarsity, lesson #7 is that training transforms. I’m totally counting my last post, dear college self as lesson #8. There are some more nuggets I’ve added to that post on and have added why college life seems to stay the same no matter what decade you graduated. Back to lesson #7; during the past few weeks over 1,000 students across lower Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania invested in their spiritual training and took a weekend to learn how to share their faith, make time for God daily, study scripture, care about people across the world, and discover the person of Jesus. As I spent the weekend helping to train 70 students on some basic spiritual disciplines like setting aside a time to meet with God daily or daily quiet time (DQT) for those who like abbreviations. David, a member in my small group the ‘sparkling elks’ (a name they gave themselves at the beginning of the weekend), shared at the end of the weekend that he was committing to take 15 minutes each day to read scripture, pray and reflect on what God has been teaching him.
The things David learned that weekend and puts into practice will serve him for the rest of his life. As he makes a priority to meet with God, it’s in that place that the Holy Spirit uses this training to transform him to become more like Jesus. It’s during that daily quiet time that Jesus will teach David to forgive others when he’s been wronged, to have peace in the midst of anxiety and confusion, to trust God with his future and relationships. At one point during the weekend, I found myself tearing up thinking about how the choices these students are making now will shape them for the rest of their lives for good or for bad. And how thankful I am to walk with them as they make these choices.
It is always easier to choose training where we can see visible results- I’ve loved stepping on the scale each week and tracking how much pregnancy weight I’ve lost (13 pounds to go!) because I’ve been running on a consistent basis. I enjoy seeing a bubbling pecan pie baking in the oven and knowing that the crust will turn out as buttery and flaky as all the others since I have learned to make crusts from years of practice. Yet more than any of these other things, I love seeing how God has used training in my life and the lives of students to teach them to care for the poor and oppressed, to be thankful, to make a choice to meet with God even when we don’t feel like it because we know that it’s a little like choosing to exercise when you’re not feeling it, your soul feels refreshed afterwards.
I know how hard it is to make a choice to meet with God daily- most days I am scrambling to get emails sent, dishes washed, talks written and children fed. Yet even in the midst of the craziness God has reminded me that I can meet with him anywhere- I can pray while washing dishes. I can confess my anxieties while running errands in the car. I can use my iPhone to read scripture instead of check Facebook while I wait in line at the bank. The International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) the international student movement of which InterVarsity is part of now has a scripture and meditation that you can get on your phone- I’d encourage you if you’re longing for some training that transforms to commit to taking the next 30 days to partake of their Thirsty devotional. On a lunch break, waiting in the car, before you go to bed at night- get it on your phone and take 15 minutes to invest in your spiritual growth.