“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” -Proverbs 16:9
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13
“Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention.” -Isaiah 28:23
Iron Mike Tyson made his career on shattering the dreams of his opponents. The former undisputed Heavyweight Champion is quoted saying that, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” This statement couldn’t be truer for the sport of boxing, and more importantly in the ring of life.
When I was in graduate school, I did an independent study on the issue of violence in sports, with a focus on boxing. I read tons of books, articles, visited the International Boxing Hall of Fame and even took up boxing for personal fitness. I always prided myself on staying in shape. However, training for boxing took it to a whole new level. I soon found that even hitting a heavy bag for 2-3 minutes drains the life right out of you….After weeks of shadow boxing, jump rope, running, pad work, speed bag and calisthenics I felt I was ready to enter the ring and spar with an opponent. I got matched up with a guy who was smaller than me, and I felt confident I could take him. My boxing coach advised me to stick to the basics and remember everything that we had gone over in the training. I chose not to take his advice. Instead, I decided to go all out, just like Rocky Balboa… My plan was simply to use my size and strength to overpower him. When the bell rung I came out throwing a barrage of punches, and deadly combinations. Sadly none of them came close to hitting my opponent as he quickly bobbed and weaved away from me. As I attempted to hit him again, I forgot that I also needed to defend myself. Within seconds, I must have been punched in the face over ten times. My headgear nearly flew off my head as I struggled to hold on for dear life. Luckily I made it through the round as I humbly stumbled back to my corner. I can honestly say that I was scared and didn’t think I could make it through the next few rounds. This time I hung on every word my trainer uttered. Needless to say I listened to his voice through the rest of the fight and went back to his game plan. I don’t think I won that particular match, however I was learning how to fight.
What happened to my original plan? Unfortunately, I failed to realize that my opponent was an experienced amateur boxer. My thought to “beat him up” didn’t come to fruition, because his experience overrides the fact that I was a little bigger than he was. That sparring session taught me more about boxing than the hours of research I completed on the history of the sport. My personal experience and failure to knock out my smaller opponent gave me a greater appreciation of what many historians call, “The Sweet Science.” The sport is an art, and the men who dedicate themselves to their craft are commendable. Ultimately my new perspective helped shape my final paper by allowing me to speak on the matter with respect and appreciation for the athletes.
Life is a lot like my first sparring session. Many times we start off excited about our dreams and come out swinging for the title. We have hopes of being a champion, but when life punches us square in the face, we quickly learn the harsh reality. These misfortunes can distract us from the bigger picture God is desiring to reveal. His word promises that “God is working in us, giving us all the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Like my boxing trainer, God’s wants to teach us how to hear his voice while we are in the ring. Hearing his voice unlocks the supernatural power that he placed inside us through his Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to get knocked down a few times before we wake up, humble ourselves and learn to listen.
The Bible says that “Man plans his ways, but God determines his steps.” I don’t know about you, but I often find the Holy Spirit wishes to show me the path less traveled. His way often leads to a new perspective, and an appreciation for what God is calling me to do. Making plans are necessary; however let’s never forget to incorporate Jesus into our plans. When we commit our plans to him, he establishes our steps making even the toughest opponent be at peace with you (Proverbs 16)…
Have you committed your plans to the Lord today? Better yet, do you recognize his voice when you’re in a fight? I encourage you to reevaluate some areas in your life by asking Jesus to guide your steps through each and every season. Uncertainties, broken relationships, finances, health, doubt… you name it. The battles we face on a daily basis are no laughing matter, and that’s why we need to give him our undivided attention. Please remember that through every fight, God is still with you. Jesus knows the unique battle you’re facing because he defeated our opponent on the cross. When death tried to knock him down, he got right back up. That victory 2,000 years ago allows us to walk into the ring holding up the Belt of Truth (Eph 6). The world needs to know the truth and that is one Championship Belt worth fighting for. . So shake it off, get back up and listen to what your trainer is telling you. He is teaching you how to fight.