All the time that Peter was under heavy guard in the jailhouse, the church prayed for him most strenuously. Acts 12:5 (TM)
I have been watching the Olympic games over the past week and witnessed American swimmer Michael Phelps win a record eight gold medals. It brought back memories of being a competitive swimmer in my youth. While friends were spending their summer break sleeping in, I was up before dawn, riding my bike two miles to the local pool. In the cool summer morning, as the sun began to climb above the horizon, I would be diving into the chilly water to begin my morning workout. Later that same day, I would ride my bike back to the pool for more practice. I can still feel the ache of my muscles. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the chlorine that permeated my hair, skin and clothes.
I ponder the hours and energy expended to prepare for a race, and I wasn’t even a great swimmer. I can’t imagine the time and energy that Olympians invest to compete in the games. To swim at that level, you must train incessantly and push your mind, body and spirit to their limits. It reminds me of Pauls words:
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
And so, it struck me as I read today’s chapter that the church prayed most strenuously for Peter’s release. I suddenly thought of my prayer life in Olympic terms. Do I push myself spiritually as I pushed myself physically as a competitive swimmer? Is my spiritual life marked by discipline, effort and strain or would it better be described by laziness, comfort and convenience?