How Kickboxing Influenced My Spiritual Life
By J.A. Marx
I discovered a new delight. Kickboxing. It's been around for a while but I only took my first class a few months ago. Now I'm hooked.
But more important, I've learned great lessons I never expected. As I stumbled through learning the moves, Holy Spirit brought verses to my mind along with a charge to make the spiritual connection.
Physical lesson 1: Engage
If I keep my abdominals tight during the entire class, the next day my oblique muscles let me know they were affected. Some people might do this naturally, but for me, it takes a lot of concentration to focus on one muscle group for 45 minutes while trying to coordinate my arms and legs going in different directions.
Spiritual lesson: Matt 22:37 (amp) And He replied to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
Going deep with the Lord requires an all-inclusive effort. All of me must engage. If I concentrate hard on what God is trying to show me through the word, prayer, and praise I will reap the harvest of righteousness I desire.
Physical lesson 2: Focus
Jab. Cross. Hook. Uppercut. Doing one of these repeatedly is easy: jab, jab, jab, jab, etc. Doing two repeatedly is fine: jab-cross, jab-cross, jab-cross. But when the instructor makes us do all four in rapid succession, my arms start flailing as if I have no control over them at all. After a month of classes, I finally realized my problem. I was letting my gaze wander.
Not that I was spying on my classmates, but my eyes would shift toward a different station that was doing different moves. I finally had to close my eyes to distractions and concentrate. Right lead: jab-cross-hook-uppercut. Then, and only then, could I do it correctly.
Spiritual lesson: Prov. 4:25-27 (amp) Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you. Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright. Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil.
I need wisdom, but my focus often wanders toward the conventional wisdom that's constantly in my face. I'll start to listen to "experts" on the internet or in the paper. Even good-intentioned Christian friends have advice for my life. And then I wonder why I'm confused.
Not that all those things are wrong. But my first search for wisdom should take me to Scripture.
"Lord, help me to avert my eyes from well-intentioned decoys, for, as Ephesians 1 states, God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing, divine knowledge and resources."
Physical lesson 3: Endurance
(Endure = to harden, or make lasting.)
I'm surprised by the intensity of kickboxing. During my first class, the deceptively slow pace had me fooled. The intensity grew gradually, and by the end I worked up a sweat and discovered muscles I'd forgotten about. Of course, the result is dependent upon how much effort I put into the workout.
Spiritual lesson: I Corinthians 9:24-27a (niv)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave….
When I realized how easy it was for me to get lazy in class, the Spirit said, "If you learn endurance through the unimportant hardships of life (kickboxing), you'll be trained to endure the significant trials." Busted!
Do you engage God with your whole being?
Do you focus on Scripture as your daily guide?
What's your endurance level when your faith is being tested?
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J.A. Marx, author/editor, resides in Texas. She and her husband enjoy being grandparents. Seventeen-plus years in marriage and small group ministry has given her a desire to see people living free in Christ. J.A. has written various articles, and edits for a national healthcare e-zine. Her debut novel, "Destiny Defied" (Part 1 of the Destiny Series) released April 17, 2013. You can contact J.A. at www.jamarx.net or Embattledspirit@jamarx.net
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