by Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
During my college years, I spent much of my free time at the Dixon Recreation Center on campus playing basketball, lifting weights, and sitting in the hot tub. One evening, the boys on my floor headed over to the the rec center and saw a new room outfitted with ping pong tables. We all decided to do a short competitive tournament. Looking back now, I realize that most of us were terrible ping pong players, but we each thought we were pretty hot stuff, especially me. After making it through the first couple of rounds, I faced up against a fellow floormate Sasa Petrovic, who was on the Beaver basketball team and happened to be 6’8”. I had not seen him play yet and prepared myself for another victory. I will never forget what Sasa said after a minute of volleying: “Are you for real?” I realized in short order his remark was not a compliment, but sheer surprise out how bad I was at ping pong. I don’t think I scored a point against him.
Humbling experiences like that are necessary training for growth and maturity. I realized I was terrible at ping pong. But how? It wasn’t for a lack of trying. When the opportunities to play had been made available, I was not flippant or lazy, but entirely focused. I reflected on other areas of my life that I had experienced success and failure and the answer became obvious. There is a clear difference between trying and training. While a few things might have come easy to me based upon my makeup, true success had been the result of a strategic investment of time and energy into a plan that was designed to produce success.
Training is a habit that has spiritual application to all areas of our lives. The apostle Paul instructs “As you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). The call for obedience implies that there are commands, or a plan, to follow. God’s Word provides the knowledge and wisdom to allow the forgiveness of our salvation to produce good fruit in our lives. This training can absolutely take place in community with others, but of much more importance is the training that takes place in the home and in the heart. The fear and trembling Paul references speaks to the immeasurable honor and value it is to respond to the gift of grace with active training in obedience.
While my ping pong play is still below average, time invested in training by studying the game and competing against “experts” has elevated my game. Still sometimes I wish I could have a professional be my constant guide and tutor. Paul continues, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (v. 13). As we strive to follow God’s instructions, He does not just throw us in the water letting us learn to swim or die. His very presence lives inside of us. When life’s opportunities and challenges come our way, God is with us, and much more when we train daily with Him. Listen to Paul and continue to daily receive God’s training from the inside out and experience “His good pleasure.”
– Adam Kronberger / Superintendent