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Focus: Going the distance
1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (NKJV) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
You may not see yourself as anything close to a ‘runner,’ but you are participating in a race everyday you’re alive. You may not be competing against someone or challenging for a prize that can only be gained by one individual. You may not even be the athletic type, but you were born to win.
Every morning, you wake up for a reason. You may not see any purpose whatsoever, but there is one. In the first moments of a new day, you might be wondering how you can get up and do it again. You might feel like going back to sleep and trying to forget for a while longer how tough it is to keep going, when progress is so hard to see.
One of my husband’s favorite movies of all time is, “Rocky.” He loves it so much because it is a classic fictional story of an ‘underdog’ boxer in the 1970’s who goes up against the undefeated title holder, Apollo Creed, in a World Heavyweight Boxing Championship.
Rocky is a small-time boxer who works as a collector for a loan shark in a lower class neighborhood of Philadelphia. When the opponent of Apollo Creed is unable to participate in the upcoming fight, Creed decides to give a local boxer the opportunity to compete against him, and a chance at the title. He picks Rocky because he likes his nickname, ‘The Italian Stallion’.
Rocky only has a short time to prepare for the fight…just a little over a month. He trains with Mickey Goldmill, a former boxer who competed in a class called ‘Bantamweight,’ back in the 1920’s, and now owns a gym. To compete in the Bantamweight class, a boxer had to weigh 115 to 118 pounds. Mickey is a little guy, but he’s known Rocky a long time. Mickey believes Rocky has never lived up to his full potential, and he pushes Rocky to work harder, because he believes in him.
Rocky’s friend Paulie, who is a meat packer, supports Rocky’s training by letting him practice his punching ability among hanging beef carcasses in the meat locker. Paulie has a very shy sister named Adrian, who Rocky visits at the pet store where she works. The two fall in love during the weeks Rocky is training.
Rocky confides in Adrian that doesn’t expect to win the fight—he just wants to go the distance of lasting 15 rounds with Apollo Creed. No one else has ever done that, and he thinks if he could, he wouldn’t be considered as ‘just another bum from the neighborhood.’
The plot continues to develop and the day of the fight finally arrives. After a dramatic blow-by-blow coverage of all 15 rounds of the fight, Rocky and Apollo are both bloody and seriously injured, but still determined. When the final bell rings, the boxers are standing in a locked position. They both agree they don’t want a re-match.
An exhausted Rocky calls for Adrian and she runs to him. As they are hugging and confessing their love for each other, the announcer declares the victory for Apollo Creed. Rocky and Adrian don’t seem to care. Rocky did what he set out to do—he lasted the whole 15 rounds and never gave up.
Recovery from depression and dependency is a definite fight—so is life. Some days, it will seem like there are more reasons to turn back than there are to keep trying to advance. When you don’t see any actual reward or benefit from your pain, you might wonder why you should continue pressing on.
God is watching your progress. He wants you to go the distance and never give up. When you’re whipped and feel like you can’t go on—fall into His arms and He will carry you until you can stand again. His mercy and strength are all you need to rely on. His Word is your lifeline. Hang on for dear life to the promises of hope and encouragement it has for you.
True progress comes when you realize you won’t make it with your own strength. It’s not by your might, or by your power, but by the Spirit of the Lord that you will survive this life and earn the crown for finishing well.
Declaration: I will find new strength by drawing deep from the promises in the Word of God. Each day I will run and fight with the strength it gives me, so that one day I will win the crown for going the distance and finishing well.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.