Few things in life were more miserable to me than “dog days,” sometimes known as “hell week,” to begin the football season in high school.  Two to three practices daily in the brutal August melting heat really made you wonder if being in the band wasn’t a much better idea. I think hell week might be renamed, “heck week” if was later, say late September.  That would be nice. The practices were long and in many ways, boring.  Repetition of plays, drills and often, standing around listening to coaches drone on about how to properly block, tackle and catch a ball as if it were a breakable egg.  There was a method to the madness.  It was unto something; we were being trained, prepared for the rigors of a long season going against teams that were as big or bigger and as talented and fast as we were.  We were thankful for the training when the lights shone on Friday nights.  The running, the push-ups, the tackling, the chalk-talks got us ready for battle.  Before the season began, before tryouts, before hell week, each athlete had to train alone, jogging around the lake or neighborhood getting ready for the official training; lifting weights and doing other things to stay in shape building muscles required for the talks ahead.    

We often don’t realize that we are in spiritual training. Some training happens in groups such as church services, home groups and bible studies.  Some training happens at home when you are alone.  It happens at your favorite chair in the living room when you steal away some time reading a devotional or a chapter or two from the Bible.  It happens when you are walking around the neighborhood, thinking and praying for your family and friends.  It happens when someone mentions to you the difficulty they are facing with their health and you offer to pray for them: right then and there.  It happens when a family member is in crisis and you respond by just being there.  It happens when you cry with those who cry, laugh with those who laugh and mourn with those who mourn.  It happens when you daily ask the Lord Jesus to wash you and fill you with His Holy Spirit.  It happens when you pray to the Lord in English and in tongues.  The apostle Paul said that he “spoke in tongues more than you all…” all part of the training, the preparation, the building of spiritual muscle.

It is those alone times with the Lord that prepare you and I for the rigors of life, the “hell weeks” that inevitably come to us.  Even in August.