My recent pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago would not have been the same if I had not trained for it. As soon as my friend, Kay, and I decided we were going to embark on this adventure we began training. She flew up to meet me in Tennessee and we took our first walk together.
It had rained considerably the days before and the trail was quite saturated. At first, we walked gingerly through the mud or found ways around the larger gloppy pits, but finally we came to a flooded area that didn’t allow a good way around, with the river on one side and a bank on the other. So, we took off our shoes and waded through, carefully cleaning our feet on the other side before putting our shoes back on. We saw it as an analogy and an invitation to seek the Way (Camino means way) and to embrace challenges.
Our five short miles had already gained us some insight.
The next day we walked in the drizzling rain and noted that we normally wouldn’t have considered this good walking weather, but it was actually quite mystical and invigorating. The miles were longer, but we enjoyed each other’s company and the beauty around us. We felt shrouded in God’s presence.
The next day it poured rain, our rain gear failed, and we actually got cold. We were glad for the comfort of hot soup and coffee at the end of our walk. Provisions made the hardships fade into an adventurous story.
God is our Provider.
We felt bolstered for the quest ahead of us and were eager for the pilgrimage to begin. We had already gained so much in our three days of early training together, and we would go on to train for several more weeks separately before meeting again in Lisbon to begin the actual journey.
I continued to profit from my training in the following weeks. My husband would often join me, and we would enjoy long times of unhurried talks. We were also getting to know the city we had just moved to a year earlier, as we walked through the heart of it. And we delighted in watching the season change from quiet winter to vibrant Spring. In my early weeks of training, the trees were dormant and the air crisp. Then suddenly it seemed the flowers started blossoming and the leaves became full in a matter of days. Birds began to sing where it had once been quiet. Bugs filled the air and the silence of winter was invaded with teeming life and noise and movement. The trails that had been deserted a few weeks earlier were now abounding with runners and enthusiasts. My training had brought me into a new season literally and probably spiritually.
I wrote in my journal:
Training is not just a grueling discipline; it is a secret delight. What I am preparing for must be equally delightful.
And it was equally delightful! The Camino was certainly a marker in my life. All the training and preparation paid off.
My physical training certainly paid dividends; I was able to walk the miles and carry my pack with little discomfort. But I also trained spiritually before I left.
I practiced peace and attentiveness in the months ahead of time so that I would be able to enter into a spiritual place more quickly in a culture that would be both foreign and intriguing.
I practiced slowing my thoughts to match a walking pace, emptying myself of busy bustle to embrace the One Thing.
I practiced delight, and let my faith grow as well as my expectancy. I didn’t just wait for those things to miraculously happen on the Camino, I prepared for them to happen by practicing them ahead of time, knowing that in a sense I was already on the Camino.
God’s Word says that spiritual training in godly characteristics holds promise for the life to come. Our “training” here is gaining us something that surpasses any earthly gain.
I did gain things on the Camino that make my life richer now. The connection I had with God on the Camino was intimate and unparalleled. I gained even deeper awe of God, a deeper love for the Body of Christ, confidence, fearlessness, hope, endurance, rest, satisfaction, humility, patience, compassion, empathy, curiosity, quietness, trust.
All these will serve me well in this life, but they also hold promise for the life to come. They can never be taken from me! These treasures are stored up in Heaven where they won’t be lost.
What we are preparing for as we train ourselves in godliness does have benefits on this earth. We can learn to live in peace, to be free of fear or anxiety, to have satisfying relationships, to have a confidence that is beyond ourselves…But what we are actually preparing for will surely be equally delightful and beneficial, in fact, eternally delightful. We are training for eternity! What you become now, in your true self, will last forever. You are an eternal being, and you are building (maturing) the person of your spirit.
The treasures that you gain while training for godliness on this earth are actually stored up in heaven where they cannot be stolen or corrupted. Once you gain these treasures, they are yours forever.
This level of peace is now yours to access.
This amount of trust will never be taken.
This confidence goes on forever…
So, don’t just train for and store up for yourselves treasures on earth that might make this life more comfortable or distinguished. Seek for, train for, and store up treasures that can never be taken from you.
- What are you training for physically or spiritually?
- How can you also train for godliness during your earthly training?
- What would you like to build in your spirit that will last and serve you forever?