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Lighter Loads

Spiritual Training Cycle: Examination (wk. 6/13)


Every seasoned athlete, weightlifter or otherwise, has learned the lesson of overtraining. Some athletes claim overtraining is just a myth; an excuse people use not to push themselves as hard. While it may be true some individuals won’t push themselves to the extreme, overtraining itself is not a myth. If an athlete doesn’t adequately recover after periods of intense training, they risk consequences like prolonged fatigue, injury, and an overall decline in performance. This is why consistent rest and recovery must happen throughout the training cycle. And if we take that a step further, to effectively avoid the consequences of overtraining, deep and restorative rest must also occur in between training cycles. This practice is known as a “deload.” A deload isn’t the absence of a training plan, it is a crucial component of the training plan. Because God Himself created the concept of rest, we are in fact participating in His plan for our lives when we allow ourselves to experience deep and restorative recovery.


A typical training cycle lasts anywhere from 8-12 weeks. At the end of that period, the best strength training, bodybuilding, and CrossFit coaches will plan for a “deload week;” scaling back the volume of training. This means the athlete uses lighter weight, performs fewer reps and sets, and decreases the overall intensity of their workouts. No new personal records will be set that week. But what follows a deload cycle will inevitably result in increased strength, muscle gains, and better training results in the long term. These deload cycles are critical in ensuring progressive change over time so that athletes can set PRs consistently, month after month, and year after year. The novice eventually turns into an athlete, the athlete into a competitor, and the competitor into a champion!


Just like in the physical training model, progressive change can also occur in our spiritual training when we plan for periods of rest and recovery. If we set out to become a global evangelist the very first moment we experience the power of the Holy Spirit, we might risk putting ourselves in a position of spiritual overtraining. The consequences of spiritual overtraining could mean the return of negative behavioral habits, the creep of secret sin, and emotional burnout. Truly effective spiritual leaders who have managed to serve the Lord and their communities for extended periods of time know what it means to seek deep and restorative rest. Opportunities for rest are planned out in their weekly routines and “deload weeks” are also scheduled after seasons of high and intense spiritual output. This might look like quiet time alone after a sermon or time away with family after a busy period in church planning. In order to serve our communities well in both the short and long term, it’s critical all followers of Jesus tap into the benefits of rest.


If you’ve spent time in the Bible, you’re likely familiar with Psalm 23. Psalm 23 is a very popular verse to memorize because it provides a beautiful and relaxing image of what it feels like to experience God’s rest:


“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”


We read here the Lord makes us rest. We know David wrote this passage and we also know David’s history from the Old Testament as first a shepherd, then a soldier, then a general, and finally a king appointed by God Himself. David indicates rest wasn’t optional for him; it was a requirement from God Himself. God leads David to stillness for the explicit purpose of soul restoration. The progression of David’s growth over time included rest!


God created spaces for us to lie down. God created spaces for us to walk with Him. God created restoration for us. David knew of this rest as he grew from shepherd to king. Help us Lord, to experience your pasture for rest as David did. Help lead us into your stillness so that we might experience true rest and recovery for our souls.


Questions for Reflection:

What does spiritual rest and recovery time look like for you?


What obstacles keep you from prioritizing spiritual rest?

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I normally do spiritual rest on Sunday after Mass. I rest and don't do unnecessary work. I will watch a movie, have some alone time with my thoughts and all talk to the Lord.

Unfortunately my mind tells me you have to plan for the week and you can't stop because that is a sign of being lazy.. I know that is not true but sometimes I have fallen into those false words.

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I battle those thoughts of being lazy too!

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