The Making of a Champion

"There is no passion to be found playing small--in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela

I believe there is a great temptation at work in our world plaguing us. It’s the temptation to quit, pull back, disengage or to simply give up. 

1. A mother simply gives up. Her child begins to test her limits and has become difficult to manage. She begins to believe she’s not a good mother because she doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to deal with her child.  She listens to the critical voice within which begins to criticize everything in her life: her appearance, her marriage, her friendships and sometimes her very reason for living.  

2. A veteran fitness enthusiast finds excuses not to workout or go to the gym. The workout equipment has an inch of dust on it and making healthy choices about what to eat or not to eat is no longer part of the mealtime routine. The time once dedicated to working out, walking with friends or preparing meals is spent watching television or mindlessly searching the Internet. Websites become more interesting and there is a great temptation to linger.   

3. A seasoned Christ follower begins to look elsewhere for spiritual fulfillment. A once vibrant spirituality becomes dull. Intimacy with God is no longer the intention of the heart but a personal desire to ‘feel good,' clouds the mind like a late afternoon Summer thunderstorm. Instead of being surrendered to serve Christ with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength they now shift their focus inward. Ultimately, the disconnection with God leads them astray. As they seek connection from another source they become critical of others and blame them for their discontentment.

The temptation to quit, pull back, disengage or to simply give up is common to everyone.Some may even call it our human nature. But, as Christ followers we are not left to deal with our shortcomings, failures and sins alone. Apostle Paul may have understood how powerful temptation can be and how temptation works. In one of his letters to the Corinthian church he writes: no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with this temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.’ 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

The Holy Spirit is our Advocate—our coach. He is our constant companion. He is our source and ever-present help in time of need. But, sadly most Christ followers don’t engage in developing a robust relationship with Him. I wonder if it’s because we have this indelible attitude of 'rugged individualism' and believe that somehow we can do things by ourselves. Or maybe we are convinced that once we’ve invited Jesus in our heart that’s good enough. Even though Jesus was invited into our heart does he live there? Do we continue to live as citizens of the world or realize Jesus Christ has made no real or lasting impact in our personal lives? Maybe nothing really changed. We can act like that rebellious two-year old who defies our loving parent’s guidance because we are convinced we can do whatever is set before us on our own. We resist the very guidance, wisdom and purity challenge we need. Our heart becomes hard, we defy Jesus’ authority, rebel and finally drift away from the source. 

Meditation Practice: Consider the following suggestion as an act of true defiance. Get comfortable. Relax, close your eyes and breathe deeply for a moment. Now imagine what God intended for our relationship with Him and the world. Imagine for a moment how much more fulfilling our spiritual lives can become if we simply yield, earnestly repent and humbly ask for his help. 

The Holy Spirit is available to fire up any weakened spiritual immune system. Yes, there is temptation to quit. But, during training every athlete overcomes the temptation to quit and heads toward the finish line with hope to one day arrive on the podium of champion status. We are spiritual champions in training. We too must tap into the source to kindle our passion, to strengthen our belief and to keep us on the path of righteousness. The Holy Spirit can be the coach we need for this and so much more. Remember, no temptation has overtaken you except that which is common to all of us. 

We are in this Christ-centered life together. It is hard work. Ask others for parenting clues. Find a workout partner or try a new sport. Engage in daily practices like personal bible reading, prayer or fasting. This Sunday we read more about Paul and the moment his ministry takes off as a missionary. The Holy Spirit fires Paul up for the long road ahead. You will want to invite someone to come with you on Sunday so you can keep each other accountable to what you’re about to receive. I pray the Holy Spirit speaks to you about the work he has for you to undertake! See you Sunday.

As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to the work I have called them to undertake. Acts 13:2 NIV