We Don't Give Up
Have you ever watched the Olympics and seen the struggle face of the silver and bronze medalists to keep a smile because of the cameras? For us, silver and bronze is a still a victory, but in their mind, it’s gold or nothing else. What about the person that came in fourth or fifth place? People might say, “At least you got to the Olympics.” That wasn’t the goal. This ignites a passion in the seasons following to train differently for that next big moment. It leads to a change in disciplines, different coach, switching up the training, and different rhythms of rest.
For me, when I experienced a deep loss in my life, I gave up for a while. I didn’t go back into the world or fall into my old ways. I didn’t change anything about my spiritual life. I did absolutely nothing but go to work and watch Netflix for a few seasons because I was utterly defeated. Have you ever had a silver or bronze moment in life where others said it was still a victory but silver or bronze wasn’t the goal? What about that moment where you completely lost? How did you bounce back? Did you give up? Have you given up?
For the last month, I’ve been on a pretty intense fitness journey where I’m training multiple times a week, counting macros, and drinking more water than I can hold. I also can’t have sugar. Please send help in the form of a cookie! I don’t have goals to be saved and snatched, but my goal is to be cross fit. What I mean is the calling on my life, just as yours, requires us to be fit in mind, body, and spirit to take up our cross and follow Jesus because this faith journey isn’t for the faint.
It can be easy to think of a fitness journey as an act of vanity with no impact on our spiritual life. However, what I’ve been learning this year is taking care of your mental and physical health is actually extremely important to our spiritual lives. My trainer taught me this, “You lose to yourself daily on a fitness journey.” What does this mean? It means I don’t always get my form right, I can’t always complete a full set on the bench press, I cut my runs short because I’m out of breath, and some days I completely skip my at-home workout because of laziness. But every new day, I remind myself of my goals and that pushes me harder. It’s transforming how I look and move through all other areas of my life too.
As I’m learning new exercises, discovering how much weight I can handle during strength training, becoming a runner again, and adjusting my life to prioritize fitness; my mind has been repeating Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:
Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified (v25-27).
Serious athletes develop their training programs using instructions from reputable leaders in the field. Our training program is based on instructions from the only leader in the field, Jesus Christ. When we encounter a defeat or loss in one season, we get to turn to Jesus and ask Him what we are to do next, better, or different. Keeping our eyes on Jesus helps us to not run aimlessly through life. Every day, we have the opportunity to move towards the goal of getting to heaven. If we keep our eyes on the imperishable crown, practice self-discipline, self-control, and never give up, we are promised mercy and grace to move us beyond our shortcomings, failures, losses, and disappointments that try to consume us to the point of giving up. We don’t give up.
Where you’ve failed or lost in life, go back to the coach and ask Him to help you get up, try again, and shift your focus. When we give our best effort and keep fighting to follow Jesus in every area of our lives, we experience His joy in this life, and we will hear Him say “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) when we get to heaven. Should we never see crowns on earth, that’s not the goal. Our goal is to get to heaven.
Let’s get practical, there are four months left in the year. Where can you begin to train differently? Has your focus shifted from Jesus? You might be in a difficult chapter of the story, but He's the author and finisher of our faith. Trust Him in the process. Has a loss in 2019 taken you out the game? I repeat: Should we never see crowns on earth, that’s not the goal. Let’s realign how we move through this life so that we are in pursuit of well done. Run your race well, friend.