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Twice a week, I sit in a church gymnasium with one eye on a laptop and the other on my two sons' martial arts class. The "ki hap!" yells which punctuate the group's kicks and thrusts are merely white noise, but silent sparring interrupts me when my boys are front and center.
A group of cheerleaders recently joined the white noise. The last portion of their practice overlaps the early portion of Tang Soo Do class, resulting in an interesting cacophony when both sides of the gym are engulfed in top-of-the-lungs shouting.
On the east half of the gym, perky misses with scant clothing bounce and smile and impossibly maneuver limbs through the cheers intended to propel athletes through whatever scheduled contest their team confronts. On the west half of the gym, solemn students practice techniques which are occasionally displayed in tournament competition, but might never be confronted with a surprise contest to defend life of self or loved one.
One group trains to bolster an arranged battle where teams aggressively engage each other. One group trains for a potential battle they must avert when it is honorably possible.
Both groups develop stamina and push through pain with the fervor victory demands. Both pursue individual excellence, to be employed on behalf of others.
Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever. That is why I run straight for the finish line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control ...
~ 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (GNB)
Few of us train for the gold medal in track or spar daily to prepare for a boxing match.
But all of us need to train hard and train daily for spiritual contests. We need endurance for the grueling race of life, and well-practiced maneuvers for the spiritual battles certain to ambush us. Running our eyes over a few Bible verses and thrusting out words of "thank You" and "please God?" toward the air of Heaven isn't going to produce the excellence Paul directs us to demand of ourselves as a necessity.
We know the war is won. But we can still suffer casualties during the daily battles if we fail to regularly train with the fervor victory demands.
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.