I’m involved in a boxing group. It’s not “Rocky” or “Fight Club”, but it’s a group of guys from church that get together once a week. We do an hour of training, then we do an hour of study/discussion. The training is led by a couple guys, mostly Tommy, who leads the lessons and cardio, and Steven who’s a ‘proficient’ boxer.
When we spar, we don’t go ‘all out’, most of our sparring sessions you go 50% or so on hits…meaning you cut way back on your strength. We want to learn this skill but keep our day jobs until Don King comes knocking. Most of our day jobs require that we DON’T come to work with black eyes.
In boxing there are habits you have, things you unconsciously do in the ring that are either very good for you, or very bad. Being new to this, most of us constantly do the bad…and because it’s boxing, you get popped in the nose and jaw…sometimes a lot. Occasionally you get your bell wrung and that’s when you know you’re having fun.
Just to define, ‘popped’ is taking a good shot by someone…it’s a square hit with a little power that both the person who threw it and the person who received it knew it was pretty good. Getting your “bell wrung” is a hard shot usually thrown by the opponent that was either MEANT to be thrown hard, or was thrown by an over zealous, adrenalin fueled, ‘can’t control myself’ guy. We are not supposed to be throwing those because even with gloves, they can hurt.
Sparring, is fun and often painful. Sounds strange to say this…but I like it…why? Because it tells me I’m alive…I’m fighting…I’m learning…
….and when I’m in the ring and get hit, it means I’m about to get someone back (usually).
Couple lessons that I learned this week.
First, I’m very tall with great reach. When I got into the ring this week I did a lot of ducking and moving when punches were thrown at my face. Sometimes my opponent connected, sometimes he missed. Steven (he’s the experienced boxer) comes over to me after and says ‘You’re tall. Why are you bending down? You’re putting your head into their zone, into their reach…keep it up, keep it away from your opponent.’
A light bulb “think I’ll try that” went on in my head.
Second thing that happened of note was that I got hit.
That didn’t surprise you, the reader…but it surprised me.
I mean, it’s boxing right? You’re going to get hit…sometimes hard. It’s funny because when you get POPPED, you’re first instinct is like “dang it! I got hit!” It’s almost like you stop for a second and have a little pout that your not perfect, you’re not dominating an opponent, you’re not getting away without taking some serious shots.
Believe it or not, this surprises you.
The third thing that’s happened recently is that when you get into the ring with Steven, you’re getting into the ring with someone who’s MUCH better at this than you are…and every now and then, he let’s you know it. He’s teaching you, he’s schooling you, he’s humbling you gently (sometimes). Now, when you’re in the ring with ‘the master’ he’s showing you things, he’s demonstrating to you your weaknesses in many cases by hitting you a couple times to let you know where you are open. Sometimes he knows you’re not getting his lesson, so he makes it a little more obvious and he POPS you a good one. And after you get popped HARD a couple times, your brain will make massive adjustments to your technique to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Boxing is a lot like spiritual warfare. We dodge and duck punches, we counter the opponents aggression, we instill moves and counter moves so that when battle comes…we do those things without thinking.
If I apply my boxing lessons this week to a spiritual lesson…there are some good lessons to be learned here.
From my first lesson, keep your head up, away from your opponent.
When you keep your head up, you keep it back and protected…the devil has to reach and stretch to get you…giving you time to maneuver and dodge. In the spiritual realm, when you indulge in sin, when you go to places that ‘lower your head’, you put yourself in his territory, into his game, into his easy reach…and you’re going to get hit..and hit hard.
Second lesson: Speaking of getting hit, remember that you’re going to get hit.
Life is hard. No one gets out of here alive. No one gets through it without getting knocked down, beaten up, bloodied and bruised. WE ALL DO.
So when you get hit, you keep up your guard, you use defense to soften the blows, you keep your eyes on the opponent, and you work your footing to keep your balance, you understand that this is not the first and not the last time you are going to get hit.
You are a fighter and this is part of the game…we fight.
The devil is real and he’s here to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s not messing around, neither should you….which leads me to lesson number 3.
Lesson 3: When the master is teaching you to fight. You can learn by listening and paying attention, or you can learn the hard way and getting ‘popped’.
Learn to learn the easy way. The hard way hurts.
We fight to win in a real world battle where the enemy wants to tear us down, tear us apart not only physically, but mentally, and spiritually as well. The enemy also wants to separate us from our WILLINGNESS to fight…because the last thing he wants us to do is be an example of strength,….because the last thing he wants us to do is to defend others…the last thing he wants us to do is teach our children and others to fight.
Ephesians 6.12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
If you want to live, then you must fight.
If you want to defend yourself and your family, then you must fight.
We are God’s soldiers…we fight against the darkness.