Disciplines and Drills, Swimming and Life

October 21, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Swimming, Wisdom | 2 Comments

I started helping with my daughter’s high school swim team today.  Her coach found out I’ve read Total Immersion, one of the definitive textbooks on modern swimming – the text he uses, and that I know the drills given in it, so he put me to work helping the slowest swimmers with those drills.  I watched the four girls in my lane swim during warmup, explained to them what I saw that needed improvement, how I thought Coach Luke’s drills would help them improve, and how I would instruct them through the process.  We spent the next 40-45 minutes doing drills that, to the untrained eye, would seem to have nothing to do with swimming faster or better.  With a few minutes left in our session, I told the girls we would take a break from drills and just swim freestyle to other end of the pool.  Not only did they already look way better than at the beginning of the session, but when I asked them what they felt while swimming, they commented on things they’d been doing wrong, and that they realized when they did those things.

It occurred to me that spiritual disciplines are to life like those drills are to swimming.  To the untrained spirit, the disciplines may seem to have little to do with real life, even appear to be a waste of time.  But the more one does them, the better that person becomes at living real life.  The more time you spend reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word, the more you will see how it’s principles relate to living life.  It won’t take long, once a pattern of spiritual disciplines is established, to see the difference.

At the end of practice the Coach Luke got all the girls together and put them into relay teams.  During the ensuing race, it looked like my girls lost everything they’d seemed to gain in the hour I’d spent with them.  They hadn’t learned the techniques well enough to imprint them in their brains, and the stress of the situation made them go right back to old habits.  The goal of the drills is to learn the best stroke technique well enough that it becomes natural even under the stress of a race.  Also, if those girls never do those drills again, they would not show any improvement, they would go back to their old habits even when they are not in the stress of a race.  This too parallels spiritual discipline, we must practice the disciplines so well that the principles of God’s word work in our lives, even under stress.  And we must continue them so that we never go back to the old way of living.

Spiritual discipline is practice for real life.  Practice well and you will live well.  Practice poorly and . . . well, let’s not go there.


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  1. Open your Bible to Acts 5:29-32… But Peter and the Apostles answered and said, “We must obey GOD rather than men…(32) and we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom GOD has given to all who obey him.”

    Those verses are unmistakable that we have to do our part by obeying the commandments of GOD.

    Then there is the dreaded (by Protestants) James 2:14-26 which starts with (14) “What will it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but does not have Works?

    Can the faith save him?…(17) So faith too, unless it has Works, is dead in itself…(20) Faith without Works is useless…(21)

    Was not Abraham our father justified by Works when he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? (22) Do you not see that Faith worked along with his Works, and by the Works the faith was made perfect?…(24)

    You see that by Works a man is justified, and not by faith only….(26) For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so, Faith also without Works is Dead.” ‘Subjective Salvation’ in action, is shown for that whole section written by St. James.

    I could go on and on with verses like this, and could ask questions such as, why is there a need for the ten commandments, since we are ‘automatically saved’? I think you get the message from what I have shown.

    Read Matthew 25:31:46. It is all about doing good works in this life. Then there is Revelation 14:13, “And I heard a voice from Heaven saying, ‘Write: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Yes, says the Spirit, let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them.'”

    Is that clear enough that works are needed in addition to faith? Still not convinced? Then how about another crystal clear verse? Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I come quickly! And My reward is with Me, to render to each one according to his works.”

    I must call it to your attention that the Bible mentions Faith Only, once and only once, in one verse, and in that verse it says NOT by Faith Only. (James 2:24)

  2. I pray this author will come to an understanding of the glorious grace of God and stop trusting his own works for salvation.
    My readers are sharp enough to realize the above comment: (1) has nothing to do with the post; (2) misses the vast majority of scriptures on his topic including entire books like Romans, Galatians and John; and (3) ignores the conclusions of almost all who come to scripture, including their honest exegesis of the passages he quotes; (4) is a rant by one who is fighting the clear truth. May God graciously bring him to it.

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