Monday, March 13, 2017

The Title Fight

"He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves 
of the sea were hushed." - Psalm 107:29

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Fighters and boxers train for hours each day to build their best physique to face their opponents. They are pushed to the limits in every way and strive to become better than the last match. They dedicate their lives preparing for the next title fight where losing is not an option.

The commitment to their craft fuels the internal fire that keeps them training, improving, and fighting in a desire to be number one. Even in the face of losses and broken and bloodied bodies. Why put themselves through the abuse of training when defeat is a possibility? Why not give up while they're ahead?

Perhaps one of the greatest boxers of our time, Muhammed Ali, can speak to the, seemingly, ridiculous nature of this sport. Mr. Ali clawed his way to the top of an industry that has little to no mercy. With each victory, his determination increased, becoming a role model for many.

He coined several phrases, including, "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee...Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see." He had a charisma that was both captivating and admirable. He kept going when others, I'm sure, would have thrown in the towel. Why?

Maybe it's revealed in one of his lesser known quotes which said, "I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" Incredible.

He knew the cost, suffering, and sacrifice boxing demanded, yet, he persevered, overcoming odds that gave him drive to carry on. In a way, I can relate to Mr. Ali's life in the past five days, when things were going wrong.

Day one began with no heat on one of the coldest days of the week. Day two brought sewer issues. Day three, troubles with another furnace. Day four, getting stuck in deep snow and resolving yet, a different furnace concern. Day five, a power outage.

To some, it may seem like I am cursed. To others, it's just a string of bad luck. I am neither a plumber nor heating expert and while each issue was and will be resolved, I was pushed to the limits in every conceivable way.

There was no previous experience to draw from for the bigger issues. I was completely ill-equipped...unqualified. Yet, strength and the determination to get through each challenge was what kept me going. Even though I felt like I was in a title fight getting royally cremed by my opponent.

While I did have a coach on the sidelines, talking me through the 'upper cuts' and 'right hooks' of each situation, it was still a match that I faced alone. One that brought alot of confusion and frustration. As a Christian, I began to doubt God's love for me. I felt abandoned. How could God allow all this stuff to happen in such a short period of time?

In reflecting, today, on what the past week had brought and all the internal buttons that had been pushed, I couldn't help but feel a bit like David taking on the Philistine giant, Goliath.

If you don't know the story from the Bible, David was a shepherd in charge of a flock. He spent years moving throughout the countryside minding the sheep, alone. While the responsibility may have seemed menial, the challenges were anything but.

He, single-handedly, killed both a lion and a bear in defense of his flock without ever having had formal training. However, he did have the strength and courage to carry out the tasks because of the intimate relationship he had forged with God during all those years of isolation.

What he didn't know was that the harrowing situations were preparing him for something greater - a title fight against a nine foot tall bully. David was completely ill-equipped for the fight, showing up with only a sling and five smooth stones as his weapon.

I'm sure he was scared and hesitant, but because of his close relationship with God, he was able to not only muster the brevity to face Goliath, but he defeated him with one stone to the forehead.

He triumphed because he trusted God, who had been with him all those years in the countryside and who was with him now, against the mighty Philistine. David knew that God would provide all that he needed to come, see, and conquer.

Through all the challenges of the past week, I had lost sight of who was getting me through each difficulty. I was allowing feelings to tell me that God had left me to sink instead of seeing it as it truly was...God with me in every single moment, helping me through.

So, while I may not understand why all these things happened, I know that God, in His Word (the Bible), promises never to leave me or turn His back on me. Maybe He'll let me know what it was all for. Maybe not. No matter what, I can honestly say that God is still good and there is a point and purpose to it all that is better than I know.

Encouragement for the week:

Ever feel like you're fighting a Goliath in your life? That you are unqualified for the challenges you're facing?

Let me assure you that it's because of the strong and determined person you are that the challenges come to test you. You may feel like you're showing up with only a sling and five smooth stones, but you are a champion about to win the title fight.

If you are a Christian, you understand the great blessing of having God on your side when facing life's challenges. Victory is on your side.

If you are not a Christian, look for God and you will find Him, the greatest trainer and coach you could ever have in your corner.

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