One of our interns invited me to play volleyball this week. It has been years since I have played - for real. You know, theres always volleyball at the picnic or the family-reunion-at-the-beach, but there is a big difference between that and the real thing. There was a day when I played quite well - on the University of Illinois men's club team. But it is hard to find a great game for a guy who 'used to be good.' So, it's been about 10 years since I really played.
But based on a great recommendation I showed up to play. It was great! 3 on 3 with some good players - good enough to be real fun, but not so good that I felt left in the dust. My level of play - adequate, but not impressive. Good enough to be on the floor...
Now, I had to make some serious adjustments. Being a bit more gravitationally challenged than I once was, I found my vertical leap had decreased to all of 2.7 inches. Jumping was wierd, timing was off and my right quad got so sore that it just about burst off of my leg. But it was fun...tons of fun. I forgot what it was like for exercise to just be fun.
For the past few years, I have been 'working out' to 'stay fit', but it has not been fun. It's a discipline that I wake up early to do because it is good for me. Ellipticals, stairmasters, freeweights...ton's of pain. But volleyball is different. I was so distracted by the sheer enjoyment of the sport that I didn't even think about the exercise until I was recovering after the games. This is what it is like when exercise is really good. You're distracted by the joy of it all.
I think that's what its like when the spiritual life is really good too. It is not just a discipline that you do because it is good for you, like eating lima beans. When you get caught up with God, and love and justice and community and the kingdom...it just feels great AND you look back and found that spiritual development was happening without really knowing it.