The fighters leave their corners, black trunks bounding toward the middle of the ring, white trunks advancing a bit then glancing right and left, considering possible escape routes.
The first fighter launches a vicious punch as the second one dances away to the left. Black trunk follows and lands a glancing blow to the side of his opponent’s retreating head.
Late in the round black trunks traps white trunks against the ropes. This unfortunate covers his face with his boxing gloves and bends low to ward off the blows as his enemy hammers him, trying to break through his defenses.
Just when white trunks’ defenses seem ready to fall before the onslaught, the bell mercifully ends the round.
Fourteen other rounds follow in bloody, bruising succession. Black trunks strikes while white trunks backpedals, side pedals and tries to ward off the punches. As the bell rang for the 30th time putting an end to the misery, white trunks staggers back to his corner, nearly unconscious.
Black trunks sweats profusely, hands sore from all the punches he’s delivered.
A minute later the referee’s summons brings the adversaries back to the center of the ring. He takes both fighters’ hand. “The winner, in a unanimous decision of the judges, is … black trunks!” he cries, raising the victor’s hand as the crowd erupts in cheers.
An incredulous look passes over white trunks’ face. “Wait! Wait!” he screams, grabbing the referee’s arm. “This is wrong. I lasted fifteen rounds. I took everything he dished out. I won!”
“Are you punch drunk?” the referee yells over the din. “The goal ain’t to last fifteen rounds. The goal is to whip the other guy. You, you hardly threw a punch.”
Holding Out ‘Til the End
I wonder if a lot of Christians don’t think that the goal in life is to simply, “hold out to the end.” Sure we’ve got to persevere and handle all the blows the enemy throws but we’re never going to win if we don’t throw some punches, get aggressive, get outside the walls of the Church and get busy doing the thing that God created us to do.
Old “coach” Paul tells us how to be a winner in the most important contest of all.
“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” (1 Cor. 9:24-27, the Message)
Notice: We run to win, not just to finish the race. The race isn’t against other runners but against all that God has called us to be. “…do a thorough job as God’s servant,” (2 Tim. 4:5, the Message) coach Paul yells out to his protegé, Timothy. If you finish 532nd in the race when you were capable of winning it if you had given your best, what good is their in that? You finished?
Winning requires discipline. If we’re not disciplining our lives, we’re not running to win. We see what we have to do to win, then we jettison anything that holds us back. What’s slowing you down?
A prize awaits the winner. It will still be gleaming when all the Super Bowl trophies have been melted to nothingness by the brightness of His coming.
The winner runs intelligently. Patience and endurance are certainly important because the runner (and fighter) masters his body, victor over hurts and pains. But use your head too. Evaluate. See where you are and what you’re going to have to do to get where you want to go. Are you maximizing the gifts God has given you?
In sports, going the distance is praiseworthy, but if I go the distance and lose because I was afraid of getting hit and never struck any blows against the enemy, how does that advance God’s Kingdom?
Strike some blows! Fight to win!
Our dreams are precious to us because in a way they are at the heart of who we are. Show me your deepest dreams and I’ll know who you are. And if you don’t have any dreams? That also speaks to who you are.