The warm, stale air was annoying, but somewhat satisfying as it meant my body was working, and working hard. Part of that warmth was from my contribution. I watched intently as the instructor demonstrated the next combo we were to attempt. It looked like another fun one. Everything was flowing today. My punches were landing strong and my kicks were landing even stronger. With over a year of kickboxing classes under my belt I was feeling more and more confident as my technique and my power were improving.
Everyone must train. For anything. School is training our brains on how to think through situations and how to thrive and enjoy the wide world beyond our classroom doors. Athletes train in their respective sports, enjoying both cross training and cardio workouts as well. Our military elite train and drill and drill and train. All so that their minds and their bodies will be ready when they are called into action. Dedication, technique, and consistency are all key.
This is also true in our spiritual lives. Not only does a daily walk through the Bible and constant practice in prayer keep our souls and minds on track with God, but they will help us prepare for battle as well. Oh yes. Our minds will soak in the guidance and our spirits will be uplifted by the encouragement and when the time comes when we are being attacked, we will have the mental and spiritual fortitude to parry and defend against the attacks.
Now, studying and praying will not make you a warrior. All of our training must be with determination and dedication with a focus on technique and consistency. All of this, of course, must be accompanied by a deep trust in God’s power despite the weakness that our human bodies are incapable of throwing off. All of this we can learn from the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, the next group of warriors that we find in the Bible.
“18 The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had 44,760 men ready for military service—able-bodied men who could handle shield and sword, who could use a bow, and who were trained for battle. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20 They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trustedin him. 21 They seized the livestock of the Hagrites—fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep and two thousand donkeys. They also took one hundred thousand people captive, 22 and many others fell slain, because the battle was God’s. And they occupied the land until the exile.” – 1 Chronicles 5:18-22
Unfortunately for us, we are indeed human. We are indeed weak.
The warm, stale air seemed to be too thick for my lungs. As I leaned over, putting my gloved hands on my knees for support, I tried to take in big, slow breathes and quickly rest as the instructor demonstrated the next combo we were to attempt. We just finished our second combo, with four more to go, and I was completely winded. I hated this feeling. I should be over this feeling. With over a year of kickboxing classes under my belt you think I would be able to handle those two cardio filled, yet simple, combos.
This story of mine comes just weeks after the beginning story. The difference? I only attended one kickboxing class during the week in between. One week of laziness. Two classes were skipped between feeling too busy and being out of town. I could have made sure I was running or biking or doing cardio or doing something, but no, I stopped training.
All it takes is just a few days and your training becomes a strain. Your defenses are not as strong and your attacks are not as fast. The enemy has a chance to sneak in, whisper an assault in your ear and place an attack, a detrimental idea in your head. We stop training because we are too busy, we don’t feel like it, we deserve a break, we need a rest. We allow our gloves to drop, allowing our opponent to place an easy punch straight to our head.
We wonder what happened. Just last week we were floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Why is it that this week we are gasping for air and unable to stand strong. Again, the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh are some warriors we can learn from. The next verses tell more of their story.
“24 These were the heads of their families: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah and Jahdiel. They were brave warriors, famous men, and heads of their families. 25 But they were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them.”
Just a few verses previously we were reveling in the strength and might that these brave warriors found in our Lord. They were victorious in battle, the trusted God, and they praised him. But they must have laid down their swords for far too long. Their bows were hung up for too many days. Their devotion to God and their training in His strength wavered. They fell to unfaithful ways.
This is why we must never trust in our own strength. If these great tribes, leaders, and Biblical warriors can fail, then so easily can we. Dedication, technique, and consistency. All of this in our faith is just as important as it in combat. We are spiritual warriors, so keep your gloves up, sharpen your swords, keep your bow ready. The enemy never stops attacking, we must never stop reading the Bible, praying, and relying on the strength of our God.