I spent a short season boxing. About a year of my life spent squatted against a wall holding a 20 pound medicine ball doing shoulder presses for 120 seconds at a time, squatting, jumping, lunging three days a week with a fighter from Brazil who basically took me on for free… as long as he could train me during lunch time when all the lawyers near 7th and Figueroa would be wasting time on the treadmill. 52 weeks of 100 step ups from the floor to the boxing ring (thank God I am tall), so this guy could get rich people to pay him for extreme torture.
The first thing to give out when a boxer fights is the legs. When I first started, I could not, for the life of me, understand why in the world, all we ever did was train the lower body. Leg presses, wall sits, squats, plyometric jumps, lunges, sprints, step-ups for 60 minutes before spending 30 minutes of jab, cross, hook, uppercut combinations that on more than one occasion left me fighting with tears streaming down my face.
The red light and sound of the bell at the end of each two minute round would literally flood my body with relief.
Nine years later, the principles of boxing still speak to me. My coach seemed to push me to exhaustion, then train me how to fight, survive and win there. Life kinda reminds me of my coach.
Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].
Don’t get me wrong, even though I couldn’t sit on the toilet without yelping in pain for three days, I loved how strong I felt after training my body hard. The same is true of my soul.
Sometimes we wonder why we have to train so “hard”. You know, the daily, boring, monotonous routine of discipline that is actually developing and refining our character. Expressing honor on the job, exercising and eating to live (instead of living to eat), sleeping, studying the Bible, cleaning our homes – the “hard stuff”.
We often wonder about our circumstances – Why God, why? When God, when? That’s when our life, our efforts, our relationships and work become all about us. Maybe we should learn to yield and surrender in our circumstances so that our hearts grow strong. Sometimes we have to beat and starve our selfish nature in order to subdue it so we are fit for God’s purpose.
Without a strong heart, we cannot fulfill the purpose for which we’ve been called. Just like strong legs produce victories in the boxing ring, strong hearts produce wins in the game of life. Try not to despise where you are now.
Without this training ground, you might not get where you’re going… or when you do, you won’t have the heart to cut it.