This Is A War, Not A Competition.

“No one is pushing her. There is no doubt she could do more, and that’s frightening.” The announcers words bounced around in my head all night. I had just watched Simone Biles dominate with her floor routine at the US Gymnastic Olympic Trials. If you haven’t watched the video of awesomeness, here you go. The woman is untouchable. Her skills and strength are unlike anything the sport has seen before.  She even has her own signature move (that no one else has been able to duplicate) and she executes it with such finesse, she makes it look as simple as a somersault.  She clearly has had amazing coaching and I don’t think the announcers were implying that her trainers are in some way “slacking off” when he said she isn’t being pushed. I think he meant that Simone’s current best is the best and, yet, she could do even more, and that’s insane.

It’s going to seem like I’m jumping ship with this next paragraph but stick with me. I couldn’t figure out a smooth transition so, hang tight, and I promise I’ll link it all together soon.

I wonder what the enemy says to his demons about us? One of my all time favorite audio book to listen to is CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, narrated by the brilliant John Cleese. It is so good and so challenging. The book is a collection of letters written by a Senior demon, Screwtape,  to his nephew and junior demon, Wormwood. In the letters, Screwtape is advising Wormwood, the less-experienced demon, on his assignment to oppress and torment and tempt a young man they call, “the Patient.” It is a fascinating fictional tale of the very real battle for our souls and the assignments given by Satan against those working to advance the Kingdom of God. If you haven’t read or listened to it, add it to your summer list. Here are some of my favorite lines from the book to convince you further. This is text of Letter VI, written by Screwtape to Wormwood:

We want cattle who can finally become food; He (God) wants servants who can finally become sons…(God) wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

Fascinating and haunting, right?

The reality is there is an enemy who hates us and his demons are scheming against us. If we are not yet in Christ, their assignment is to keep us in our lost state. If we are in Christ, they work to keep us from taking as much ground for the Kingdom of God as possible. They have declared war against us and we must engage and give it right back.

I believe that, like the announcer said of Simone Biles, some of us could do more if we were challenged to do so. I bet the demons find that truth frightening. And there is the connection you’ve been waiting for. Boom.

There is tee shirt out there that says “Be the kind of woman who, when you wake up in the morning, the devil says, ‘Oh crap, she’s awake.'” There is also a shirt that says, “They will know we are Christians by our tee-shirts” but I digress…

The point is, we are at war and on mission and we can’t do it alone. We have to surround ourselves with those who will push us and challenges us. Without those voices, we will become complacent and apathetic and blah. And blah doesn’t feel good. There is no life or lasting fruit that comes from blah.

And here is the scary part: just because we’ve disengaged in the war, doesn’t mean our enemy has backed off. The devil doesn’t play fair and he prefers to kick us while we’re down. He needs to keep us there. He needs to keep us depressed and lonely and certain that everyone else is winning so why even get in the race. What we have to remember is that we are not in a competition, we are at war. Our “race” is about taking ground, not finishing first.

The good news is, in Christ, we win. Even when we lose. So keep running and keep warring, and keep building relationship with those who will push you and call you higher and help you ready for battle. Find fellow warriors and link arms with them. We have ground to take.

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