From the Tennis Court to the Lion's Den

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From the Tennis Court to the Lion's Den

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From the Tennis Court to the Lion's Den

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Starting in seventh grade, I played for the high-school tennis team every spring. It was the highlight of my school year. The training with the team, the matches we would play at home and away—tennis season each year held some of my fondest high school memories.

But it wasn’t always easy. At the start of each season, we began the rigorous training period to whip our high school selves into good-enough shape that we could actually put up a fight when it was match time.

We have to be so trained that we are not only capable of outrunning a lion but defeating this lion, stopping him dead in his tracks.

I’ve never been the best sprinter. Even giving it my all, there was no way I could ever be the best sprinter. I’ve always been better at longer distances and endurance running. So, when it came time to do the four-court crunchers, I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant. It would burn. It would hurt. It did both those things.

But I did them. You see, the training had to come before we could get a win. The sprints, the running, the stretching all were crucial during matches. It helped us get to that drop shot our opponent snuck in. It helped us return a seemingly impossible backhand to the far-left corner. It helped us outlast our opponents when the match went into overtime.

Training is crucial, in more than just the sports world.

As Christians, we are called and given God’s Spirit for a purpose. This is a long-distance race that we cannot win unless we are constantly training for it (Hebrews 12:1-2 Hebrews 12:1-2 1 Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
American King James Version×
). Our training, though, isn’t rooted in the physical. We are not running laps on a track in preparation for the fiery darts of Satan. We are training for a spiritual battle, and must use the spiritual tools God has given us.

The apostle Paul shows us that: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
American King James Version×
).

But any good athlete knows, you can’t take days off from your training, otherwise you will not be as strong as you need to be to win the next race, to outlast your opponent.

Daily prayer and Bible study are crucial in our spiritual Christian training. Add to that meditation and fasting whenever you can, and you have a full workout regimen that can help get you to the top!

In 1 Corinthians 9:24 1 Corinthians 9:24Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.
American King James Version×
, Paul tells us, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

We are in the run for our lives! Are we preparing as if so, or have our prayers become flat, lazy or lacking? Are we using our Bible as the living word of God or are we stuck in a routine that lacks zeal, that lacks real interest on your part? Or are we lacking a routine at all and go days without opening your Bible or talking to our heavenly Father?

In physical training, we sometimes allow ourselves “cheat days,” days where we don’t train at all, we eat foods that don’t help us. We get a little lazy. But ask yourselves: can we afford spiritual cheat days?

Training is hard—for tennis, for running, but even more so in our spiritual training. Distractions are everywhere. Satan’s world is alluring in so many ways. But rest assured, Satan is not missing a day of his training. He is a strong opponent who we must fight against like our lives depend on it. We can’t let our guard down for a moment, because he is poised and ready to attack at any sign of weakness. Scripture is so vivid in its depiction of Satan. We can never forget these words:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil roams about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×
).

We have to be so trained that we are not only capable of outrunning a lion but defeating this lion, stopping him dead in his tracks.

With God on your side, are you up for the challenge?