Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 1/13)
I’ve always been inspired by weight loss photos and the journey behind an individual’s transformation. In the ‘before’ photos you often see someone who appears somber and defeated. But in the ‘after’ photo, you see someone who appears confident and joyful. Yes, the weight loss part is evident, but even more apparent is the change in attitude and body language they exude. So now you’re left wondering, how exactly did this person get from point A to point B? Typically, a specific playbook, process, and coach were used to achieve the physical results of their transformation. In the same way, we can use a specific playbook, process, and coach to create spiritual transformation; producing the kind of genuine confidence and joy that comes from understanding God’s will for our lives.
The most difficult part of any weight loss transformation process isn’t usually the start. The beginning of a weight loss journey is typically when you will see the most change. The body is shedding the carbs and water stored in the muscle during this time and the numbers on the scale reflect that. This is the exciting part of the process and helps athletes feel an early “win.” The most difficult part of the weight loss journey comes with the dreaded “plateau.” A plateau occurs when the body has adapted to the new caloric deficit and the new output of weight training and cardio. At this point in the journey, having a coach can make all the difference. A wise coach, with all of their knowledge, can prescribe small changes that have a significant impact on the trajectory of weight loss and body composition. This kind of coach has a wider perspective on transformation over time and is aware of all the small details that need tweaking that you likely won’t see on your own.
The most difficult part of spiritual transformation is very often the same story as our fitness journey. We collect some early “wins” in our new or renewed faith walk. We might hear a sermon we like from a pastor, or a worship song that moves us, or a powerful prayer by a friend. While these experiences do inspire us for a period of time and they are genuinely valuable, they may only fill our spiritual tank temporarily and then we experience that dreaded plateau. This is why we are continually encouraged to spend time reading the Bible. We have access to the wisest Coach’s playbook of all time. God has given us the Bible so we can READ it and understand more of His good plans for us. Jesus has a wide view perspective on how to transform and renew our hearts and minds. He can see the small details in our lives that need adjusting. This is why the power of the Biblical playbook cannot be underestimated!
Admittedly, the Bible is a very long and complex text and it can be difficult to navigate. In order to break through a spiritual plateau, we have to come up with a process for reading the Bible that allows us to see what God is truly revealing to us through it. Sometimes that means researching the specific historical context for the time period in which a book of the Bible was written. For example, a letter from Paul written to the Greeks has a unique context compared to a letter from Paul written to existing believers of Christ as Savior. Sometimes part of this decoding process might mean that you need to pray and meditate BEFORE you read the Bible and invite God’s perspective into what you are reading. Oftentimes for me in that specific prayer, I’m asking the Holy Spirit for His power to diminish my own views and biases so His truth can become more evident; to minimize any distorted opinions that may have been shaped by my social culture, family, friends, secular communities, media, etc. To push aside what the world is saying and open the door to what God is really trying to communicate. Paul speaks to this when he writes in Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
To push through the plateaus of our physical transformation, we need a playbook, a process, and an experienced coach who sees the wider perspective. The plateaus of our spiritual transformation also require a playbook, a process, and a coach. The Bible is our playbook. Intentional and humble study of scripture is our process. And the Holy Spirit Himself is our Coach. God’s will for our lives, not our own, is perfect and it is SO good my friends. Be transformed!
Questions for Reflection:
What has God revealed to you in the Bible from a story that you’ve heard before but found new meaning in?
How are you working to understand God’s will for your life and not the world’s?