I ran marathons for several years, in my younger more athletic days. One of my big goals was to run the Boston marathon, which I eventually did while on sabbatical leave at the University of Virginia. It wasn’t my best marathon but one of the most memorable. One thing the Boston marathon is famous for, are the couple large hills near the finish.
A marathon is roughly 26.2 miles or 42 kilometres. When I think back on my success, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of training. Without the training (running 20 miles every Saturday two months before a marathon to build up stamina), I would never have had the confidence to face those hills near the finish. Hills that looked like they would never end. I had five other friends who were willing to endure the intense training with me, day in and day out, helping me build the stamina and focus that we need for marathon running.
When I look at Daniel in the Bible, I see some similarities, especially the importance of training in the development of Christian leaders:
1. Daniel and his friends were willing to endure intense training in a land not their own. They stood firm through much affliction and trial, without compromising their commitment to God.
2. Also, just as in my marathon training, Daniel had his friends and they supported each other through this time of captivity.
We are seeing that this Coronavirus crisis is going to be a marathon. Just like with Daniel and his friends, God is demanding a sacrifice -- to release our growth in Him and build Daniel-like leadership qualities in us and surround us with friends to keep us going.
Daniel had the ability to hear God, because he put God first and would daily set himself apart. Training under God is daily setting yourself apart from the world, spending time conversing with the Lord through the Holy Spirit, reading His Word, hearing His voice, praying without ceasing and worshipping Him.
Only then do we draw close enough to discern God’s true nature and loving heart. The reward out of this period of intense training will be God Himself – “I am your exceedingly great reward” (Gen 15:1).
We then trust the Lord to give us what we need, to help us lead in what will be a very different world, the post-Covid world.