Have you ever been knocked out in a fight? I have. I didn’t like it much. After all that bobbing and weaving and ducking and hitting; bam! Right in the nose. I saw stars and down I went. I didn’t stay down. Hats off to me, I jumped up and did the drunk walk for a bit before finding a place to fall down again.
I lost that one.
It is the only time I was knocked out by another human.
I am glad I don’t box anymore. My Dad was an avid boxing fan and at one time we watched as many bouts as we could and knew many of the boxers by name and style. It is a violent sport. And there’s a lot to do if you want to succeed. Stay on the balls of your feet, keep them moving constantly, buildup your speed, your strength, your stamina, and control your emotions.
My biggest downfall was losing my temper. You could hit me anywhere and it didn’t matter, it didn’t really even hurt. But hit my nose, and I’d go berserk! I’d charge like a mad bull leaving myself open and vulnerable.
That’s a huge mistake in boxing. It is a huge mistake in life too.
Now, I must confess I was never a professional boxer. My Dad discouraged it because of the brain damage boxers can receive from getting hit so many times. Most of my bouts were in makeshift rings with other poor kids who had more imagination than access to any real sporting facilities. We had gloves, headgear, mouth pieces, and heavy practice bags. We were the real deal. Until moms called us home.
The biggest lesson I learned from my fights is to not lose your temper. Once you let your emotions take over, your brain doesn’t think. You go into a blind rage wanting to hurt your opponent. There is a difference in hurting someone and beating them in a competition. Wanting to destroy others usually destroys you. In a boxing match, this is obvious.
In the real world most of us do not have people trying to hit us. Our number one opponent is the devil. If we try to destroy him using our talents and strengths we will lose and lose badly. Besides, it is not our job to destroy him, only resist him. He tries to goad us into losing our temper, or he tries to lure us away from God so that the fight is fixed in his favour. The best way to win these bouts is to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7) Keep your head and heart on the winning strategy of God first.
Another lesson I learned is to know the rules. This means knowing what the rules are and what to expect. In boxing as in other forms of combative sports it is easy to have a bout break into a brawl. Rules are the guidelines we agree to follow to make life better. For instance, there are rules about dating that protect women from being molested. There are rules about shopping that prevents price gouging and thievery. The rule book for how we relate to God and to others is the Bible. It all boils down to just two rules: Love your God with all your heart and mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37).
The last lesson I learned that I want to share today is to train. Professional athletes train daily. These are hard gruelling hours often spent in lonely empty places. These are times in which your body cries to stop and your mind and heart can grow faint. Once, the match starts, training gives you an advantage. Physical training is tough and you have to be determined. You have to want the end results more than the immediate wants. This takes discipline and endurance. In life, we also need to train spiritually, so we can stand against the devil. This means studying the Bible daily. When Jesus was tempted after not eating or drinking for forty days, He resisted the devil by using Bible verses. Knowledge of the Bible is of utmost importance in the bout of our lives.
Self-control, staying within the boundaries, and being ready and able to stand your ground against the devil are three keys in life. And the absolute most important lesson in life is to submit to God.
Andy Becker is a retired counsellor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. Andy and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministry in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest areas. He is a retired counselor, speaker, and writer. Andy Becker is working on his second book about spiritual warfare. His first book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.