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Round 2: Another spiritual lesson from the octagon
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And after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. – Ephesians 6:13-15
Last week in “Round 1” of Spiritual Lessons from the Octagon, I told of the lesson learned on self-control in a recent match between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and James Kraus.  In practicing self control “The Cowboy” won the match with ease which was an outstanding reminder of how Christians can win daily battles as we too exercise self-control.   

When that match ended I assumed my spiritual lessons were over for the night.  I was wrong.

Later, the “California Kid” Uriah Faber stepped into the octagon for a rematch against champion Mike Brown and I was reminded of another important spiritual lesson—Standing firm.

According to The Associated Press the fight went like this. “Brown defended his WEC featherweight title Sunday night with a unanimous decision over Uriah Faber, narrowly hanging on to the belt he took from Faber seven months ago.”

If you didn’t watch the fight and only read the reviews, it sounds pretty cut and dry right? But Brown winning the match was only one part of the story.  Faber’s performance is where the real story and spiritual lesson begins.   

The California kid is well-known for his extensive training and for the high demands he places on himself as a fighter.  He has said that his training is “reality based.”   However, in his reality grappling, Jui Jitsu, Judo, boxing, kicking boxing, running hills and sprints, smashing giant sledgehammers onto huge tires to develop muscular explosiveness are all part of the daily routine.  Faber’s reality consists of doing whatever it takes not only to prepare for his next fight, but to win.

While Faber did not win this match, the spiritual lesson was obvious to me from the start when he broke his right hand and injured his left against the solid body of Mike Brown early on.  His hand injuries left him without the use of one of his vital fighting weapons, yet it didn’t stop him.  Only able to slap lightly with his left hand, and unable to use his right altogether, Faber gave everything he had by instinctively using what he could to continue the battle.   Leaning shoulders, spiking elbows, high knees and strong feet, though wincing in pain, kept him in the fight.  Though the judges didn’t grant him the victory his unconquerable spirit and undeniable champion-like heart earned him great respect from his opponent and the viewers and left him standing firm.  Though his body may have been beat indeed his spirit was strong.   

As Christian’s we are in our own cage fight so to speak against the devil.  He knows he can’t have our spirits once we turn our lives over to God but that doesn’t stop him from coming after us in hopes of discouraging us from developing a closer walk with God.  The devil doesn’t throw hands and elbows, but instead throws destruction, disappointment, evil, sadness, depression, anxiety and fear in order to defeat us.

Similar to Faber, a believer’s training needs to be reality based.  The Christian’s reality consists of warring in the spirit through intercession and prayer, learning about God through daily devotions, Bible reading, and sermons.  Worshipping God on both good and bad days and hardest of all, the practice of laying issues and concerns down at the trustworthy feet of Jesus, without picking them up when inner panic starts to rise.  Implementing this kind of reality based, spiritual training makes smashing a sledgehammer into a gigantic big rig tire look like child’s play.  But it’s this kind of training that believer’s need on a daily basis in order to stand firm as God has called us to do.

Ephesians 6:13-15 teaches that when Christians use everything they have to fight against the devil and can do no more, all that is left to do is to stand.  Stand for what you know is right in God.  Stand firm in your faith and trust that your spiritual training will cause you to prevail.  Though you may stumble and fall, though for a moment it may seem like you’re losing the fight, just as Faber showed viewers from the ring, your unconquerable spirit and champion-like heart will cause you to stand firm and be the winner God says you are.