November 7, 2013
Pro athletes have such amazing physical skills. Years of intense and intentional training build tremendous coordination and deep-seated muscle memory. Hours of drills, techniques, and exercises, reviewing and repeating the same actions with on-the-spot coaching and guidance develop them into athletic machines, permitting them to maximize their potential. Despite all that physical preparation, when athletes get onto the field one very significant physical organ will determine their success. The brain!
They say sports are 90% mental. What’s between their ears really determines if they will maximize their physical abilities. What counts are their intellectual, psychological, relational, emotional and spiritual skills and their ability to manage stress. In fact, to develop physical skills at such a high level, many other mental skills are vital to success: perseverance, self-discipline, hard work, maintaining the integrity of the drills without taking short cuts, dietary self-control, studying plays, observation and application, values, purpose, meaning, and learning from mistakes. Life works the same way.
Freedom of speech … freedom to choose the vocation we want … freedom to practice any religion. But are we really free? How many of us are actually prisoners of our own hearts and minds? How many of us are “driven” to be something we are not? How often do we sabotage the path designed specifically for us? In an odd paradox, freedom really comes from having only one Master … the only one qualified to be the Master. Most of our troubles come from trying to blend masters (self, world, others, God) for our lives … thus devising and implementing our own game plans while ignoring His. You will maximize your abilities and your life, in other words, achieve your God-given potential, when you realize your life is 100% mental and you humbly let all-powerful and all-knowing God be your coach and authority. That is certainly how my life really turned around.
Here’s the bottom line. All life comes down to decision-making. First come decisions you make to prepare, practice, acquire skills and develop them. Then come the decisions that are made when real life is going on … how you apply those skills. The reason we push decision-making skills so often is that they are the key to your life and spiritual growth.
Today, find freedom by seeking to please God above all else. When you are angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, or experiencing some other uncomfortable feeling, just stop. Don’t act yet. Think of God and His big picture of salvation and eternity. Or ponder Biblical passages that calm you. Let this soothe you. Then get back to the situation that was upsetting you. From this calm state, think through a better solution than the one that initially went through your mind while you were upset. This is how you can be victorious in the mental aspect of everyday living. Concentrate on staying close to Him at all times and humbling yourself to His instructions for your conduct. Whether you put in effort to strengthen the mental part of your life or lazily hope it randomly happens is your decision, so choose well!
Dear Father God, I come to You with a thankful, yet penitent heart. I confess, Lord, that I have let worship of others’ and my own expectations drive me, scattering my energy and focus. Also, my desire to “look good” in the eyes of others is draining my energy. Help me, Lord, to focus on You. I know that this is the only way to achieve true freedom. Help me focus on serving the one and only Master, You. Help me, Father, to develop discipline in my life, taking my thoughts captive, so I can master the mental game that goes on inside of me and be victorious in this spiritual war for my soul. I pray that today and every day I will let You direct my next step. Then I will be free to enjoy You and look forward to what You have prepared for me this day. These things I ask boldly, through the love and work of Christ Jesus for us, and all God’s children say, – AMEN!
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10
And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16