“To make a fighter, you’ve gotta strip ‘em down to bare wood. You can’t just tell ‘em, ‘forget everything you know,’ you gotta make ‘em forget it in their bones; make ‘em so tired they only listen to you, only hear your voice, only do what you say, and nothing else…” [Million Dollar Baby]
That quote packs a punch for me, because training a fist fighter is a lot like training a faith fighter. That became painfully apparent to me when I discovered my desperate need for spiritual training—ongoing, rigorous spiritual training.
I think I was flat on my back when my Trainer reintroduced Himself to me as the One I hadn’t been listening to very closely. I was just waking up to that fact after a few canvas naps.
What makes faith-fighting more challenging than boxing is that, although they fight as one, there are three opponents in the ring. I counted them while they were hitting me. The World was pounding me with body blows. My Old Self was peppering me with shots. And the Enemy, who was coordinating a lot of the ring strategy, was throwing the occasional hay-maker.
When I was hanging onto the ropes, and desperate enough to pay better attention, my Trainer started training me–hard. What’s His training like?
Along with endless repetition of the fundamentals, there is a lot of exhausting spiritual conditioning for building endurance:
- pushing through tough circumstances
- running steep hills of difficulty
- working the “wait”-machine for developing patience
Then there’s ring training, which mostly involves giving keen attention to the Trainer. The Trainer says, “Keep your left up,” and if I don’t listen, I get hit in the face. That repeats until I keep my left up.
- “Move your feet.”
- “Watch for the right hand.”
- “Cover up.”
- “Jab. Jab. Right hook.”
- “Stop hitting yourself.”
In all of His instruction, my Trainer is actually directing my attention to another Fighter in the ring–the greatest Faith-Fighter who ever lived, the Champion who won the Ultimate Fight on my behalf, the Title-holder who is now fighting with me and, as I keep in step with Him, is fighting for me.
My Trainer is directing me to shadow the Champion so that I fight in His strength. That is why–no matter the distractions or the competing voices clamoring for my attention–I must only listen to my Trainer, only hear His voice, only do what He says, and nothing else.
What’s your fight training been like?