It’s 7:00 a.m. in this city. A young man walks to the pool, and like a finely tuned watch timed to a precise moment, there is the sudden splash of water followed by the rhythmic, exact strokes of coordination and concurrence. He systematically continues for about five hours.
It’s 7:30 a.m. in another part of the country. A young gymnast methodically begins her weekly thirty-two-hour floor and balance beam training. With a break in between for nutrition, she continues her grueling practice for about six hours.
What, if anything, do these two scenarios have in common? They both involve daily rigorous training five and six hours per day by two people who are hailed among the greatest athletes of all time.
Without regular training, these two people would not have become unmatched champions. Instead, they would be rather ordinary, like a group of people who would always go to the same place for lunch every day because it’s just easier. Their training is purposeful and strategic. Their goal: to detect weaknesses and strengthen any areas that may hinder a successful outcome and win.
Suppose we could see our life challenges as Divine basic training to discover our true identity and personal fulfillment. Develop the habit of seeing every seemingly adverse circumstance or event which occurs in your life as an opportunity for Divine blessings.
One of the best examples of a negative beginning with an intended blessing is the story of Joseph, son of Israel. Despite being thrown into a pit, sold to Egyptian slave traders (who, in turn, sold him to one of Pharaoh’s officers), being accused of adultery and placed in prison, Joseph’s commitment to God yielded a majestic blessing and triumphant ending. (Genesis 37:18-36; 39,- 43) That is the fruit of which dreams are made.
Both athletic training and Godly training thrive under the umbrella of a coach. God is a seasoned coach specializing in turning negative outcomes into positive ones. Learn to accept His training schedule with patience. Perfection cannot be microwaved, it takes time. Joseph’s treasure materialized after many years of preparation.
The training regimen of the two athletes requires commitment, strength, discipline, and courage. God’s training requires faith in His unchanging love for you as well as your personal commitment that you will let Him direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:6)
A champion treats each challenge of life as an opportunity to build character, make positive life decisions, grow stronger in Godly faith, and help others.
Champions focus on future rewards while putting in the hours that may seem like adversity or punishment in the present.
There is nearly nowhere you can go at this time of year that does not display some type of reference to Christmas. In fact, displays of this holiday begin to appear in different places in early October.
For some, Christmas represents a spiritual event(s). For others, it’s shopping and gift-giving or exchange. Some view it as a gathering of family, friends, parties, or a combination of any of these. Television and radio commercials target consumers with the words, “In the spirit of Christmas,” as they urge you to shop and buy. Far too often, this spirit wreaks of commercialism and triggers stress, overspending, and debt.
Discussing the origins of Christmas to some might be a real downer. But I would fall far short of my website name and mission if I did not at least mention that December 25th began as a holiday in cultures where pagan festivals took center stage. Saturnalia (god of Saturn) and Juvenalia (children of Rome) were celebrated in Rome as the forerunners of the Christmas holiday. In fact, during the American Revolution era, Christmas celebrations faded from existence for almost an entire century.
Despite it’s less than bright beginnings, Christmas has the potential to bring good tidings. Our Christmas gift bags would carry better if they were not filled with tissue paper of debt and disappointments over unimportant things like the cheap gift set, an ugly tie, over-baked cookies, whether you hang the Christmas tree upside down, or uninspiring disagreements over the use of “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
In the midst of every shopping spree and every home which celebrates this holiday, there should be included the gift addressed as love. (I Corinthians 13:4)
If we would all tie a red ribbon around our finger when we shop or celebrate, it might help to remind us that we become part of the true reason for the season when we demonstrate love.