In the Ring…

A boxing match kept coming to my mind….The punches, the spit, the blood, the countdown, the adrenaline, the exhaustion…

I’m not a fan of boxing. I don’t like watching others fight for fun or money. But, I know many are. I admire the athleticism and endurance it takes to fight, but I still don’t like to watch it. This correlates perfectly with the punches we take on in this life. It’s not pretty to watch others get hit over and over and it doesn’t feel good to be hit so hard that your head spins and your “teeth” fall out.

Do you ever feel like you are in a battle? Like you may get hit multiple times in one day and then out of nowhere once you manage to get up on to your feet, you’re taken down again? Each and every time you wonder if this may be it? The big one. The KO. But, it’s not. You wake up the next day with one heck of a shiner, feeling weak and sore from the fight, but a little bit stronger and quite honestly surprised you’re still going.

If you feel like you are in a battle, it’s because you are. And it’s warring every day. We are in a battle and it’s not against flesh and blood. It’s not with the people throwing the punches or our own bodies. It’s not with the bank or your boss. It’s not with your spouse or your ex. It’s not with your parent or your child.

Paul writes…

 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

Our opponent thrives on division, wars, conflict, stress, and despair. His MO is to give us a KO. To knock us out of the running. To keep us from sharing that God is LOVE, still loves, will always love. To keep us from sharing how He works and how He is already wearing the Championship belt.

He doesn’t call us to fight as the world fights, but in the Spirit. In truth, peace, faith, His Word, and prayer. (Ephesians 6) This is war against an enemy who wants the EXACT opposite. He’s relentless in his pursuit to deceive, steal peace, intimidate, keep you away from the Bible, and away from heartfelt sincere prayer. I know this…because I’m fighting too.

When we fight with the weapons of the Holy Spirit, even to exhaustion, God promises…”no weapon turned against you will succeed.” (Isaiah 54:17)

In the heat and hurt of the battle, remember that He helps us fight our enemy. We are not on our own. It may feel daunting when you see that next fist coming at you, but his days are numbered and yours are infinite in the mighty hands of Jesus.

In preparation for this article, I looked up the word “Uppercut”. It’s defined as follows: “The uppercut is a punch used in boxing that travels along a vertical line at the opponent’s chin. It is, along with the cross, one of the main punches that count in the statistics as power punches.”

How fitting. I don’t know what a cross punch is, but it is because of the Cross that we have victory. No matter how beat up you feel, chin up fighter. I’m cheering you on, praying you through, and fighting in the ring next to yours.

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Beautifully Guarded


guard your heart

Having our hearts properly guarded doesn’t keep others out, it keeps God’s great love for us in and first. It protects us from pain and reminds us Whose we are.

I used to be stepped on daily. I realize now that I allowed it. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know that my opinions and preferences mattered. I really thoughts others’ opinions and preferences mattered more than mine. And that if I voiced my own, I’d be considered rude or demanding. My desire to please other people led me to a place of silent suffering and constant pain. It led me into a marriage with a domineering and dominating man. A man who looked for a woman to please him by leaving him alone, letting him live his life separately, and letting him have his way. I internalized that pain and thought it was because I must not be enjoyable to spend life with. In my head, that must have been true, or he would have been there….with me, with us, enjoying life together.

My heart was not guarded whatsoever with the truth that God desires for us. I lived unaware of who I am to Him and that He died for me personally. That, no matter what happens, He loves me. That I am worth loving and fighting for. Not perfect, by any means, but loveable and precious just as I am and was.

I’ve learned that there is a difference between walls and boundaries. Walls are understandable after trauma and formed out of fear to protect ourselves. Walls aren’t bad, they are normal, but can be broken down with consistency and genuine love. Once the heart feels ready to love again, boundaries promote a love that feels comfortable and provide opportunities for both parties to trust again. Boundaries and healthy. They protect and help love blossom without blocking.

Just like there is a difference in walls and boundaries, there is also a difference between a closed off heart and a guarded heart. Closed off is also understandable after trauma and shut down for fear of pain and letting someone in again. Closed off comes from the fear of speaking up for yourself or maybe not knowing who you are or what you want or need out of the relationship at all. Closed off is having no interest in getting to truly know anyone else because you feel better off alone. If that’s the truth, then so be it. But, if it’s because of fear or indifference, it’s closed off. We’ve all been there too.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

This verse used to confuse me because I thought it meant to shut out, but I see now that it means to shut in. Let the love of God into your heart and shut the door tight. Keep it there and love yourself and others with it. You are a precious child of God. We can remain open, yet very much guarded. We need to properly guard ourselves from coworkers, friends, parents, our children, and even our spouses. Because, guess what? Words hurt. Loss hurts. Conflicts hurt. Separation hurts. A guarded heart loves others, loves themselves as a child of God, listens, forgives, promotes and accepts change, and lives aware of the fact that God loves them more than anyone else ever has, does, or will. Guard your heart so that in the wake of extremely painful consequences, the love of God will comfort you more than anyone or anything else ever can.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)

To me, this means He doesn’t want us closed off to others. He wants us open to love them, but to not forget ourselves or Him in the process. Lean on the Lord and be you. Be you because you were created different than anyone else for a reason. Be you because the ones God has for you love you for who you are. God put you here to be you and love others through Him. Not to “love” others by constantly pleasing them, always telling them what they want to hear, or giving them exactly what they want exactly when they want it. Give them you, soaked in Jesus. That’s the best you, you can be.

People change, lives change, circumstances change. He does not. He will not. He is our Rock. Guard your heart with that beautiful truth.