My heart was pounding as I watched the competitors exit the ring, most limping or bleeding. Whistles pierced the air as people filled the arena with cheers and shouting. A big, red cross hung over the medical station, guiding those who needed post-match patching up. “I’m not so sure about this,” I said to my husband.
“He’ll be fine,” he replied with smooth assurance.
When my boys were young, they were given the unique opportunity of training under a former U.S. Olympic taekwondo coach. This was my youngest son’s first tournament, and he had chosen to compete in the sparring event. As he put on his helmet and protective padding, he entered the ring with a kid who was twice his size. The scowl on that kid was enough to make me want to run down and snatch my son out of there! With one blow of a whistle, the match began, and with great intensity, the big kid immediately delivered a roundhouse kick to the back of my son’s leg, sending him to the mat. As he lay there, my husband yelled from the sidelines, “You’re okay! Get up and keep going!”
As the match continued, my son got in a few good kicks and blocks, but overall, he was being pummeled by the giant. The whistle blew, and the first round was over. He came to the edge of the ring for water and a quick rest. “I can’t do this,” he said.
“Don’t give up,” his father encouraged him. “This is what you’ve trained for. You can do this!”
Sometimes when you’re pursuing the vision God has put in your heart, it feels like you’re in the ring with a giant—getting pummeled. It can be tempting to leave the ring and all of its challenges. But you need to remember that you have a Father right outside the ring, saying, “Don’t give up. You can do this!” He knows that perseverance is the key to unlocking the doors He has for you.
In his Lessons from Joseph teaching, Andrew says,
If you never get out on a limb, you’ll never bear fruit. God doesn’t want you to be a trunk hugger. He wants you out on the limb, blowing in the breeze…where it’s a little scary—because that’s where the fruit grows. You [may] have the temptation to quit and to give up and to just say, “What’s the use? I tried.” God [will enable you] to stand…when it looks like nothing is working. (brackets added)
After many challenges and five years of training, my son earned his first-degree black belt. I still remember the day when his coach tied the belt on for the first time. He had won the prize and finished the race. I saw a different person than the boy who had felt defeated in the ring. He had come to believe he could accomplish anything, knowing that anything worth having is never easy to obtain.
If you are going to really succeed, you are going to have to get to a place to where you can see yourself succeeding when everything in the natural looks contrary. You’ve got to stay diligent. If you are going to see God use you, you are going to have to look beyond your physical circumstances and see things by faith.
When God gives you a dream and a vision, it doesn’t matter if things go perfectly along the way. What matters is that you choose to stay in the ring.