By Mike Sanders
Even though the conversation was 14 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I guess the intensity of the moment, and the love and respect I had for the person I was speaking with, is what makes the memory seem so near and dear.
At the time, I was working as the head strength and conditioning coach for one of the top collegiate Division I men’s ice hockey programs in the country. I was talking to the captain of the team — the defending national champions from the year before — and I never imagined such an honor. But here I was with the team for the second year in a row, getting ready to play in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship Final known as the Frozen Four.
The team we were facing that day was a big, physical team – the type of team that I call headhunters. Their style of play was always to use their superior size and strength to grind and wear down their opponents. Hitting hard and looking to beat them into submission. We were a much smaller team, but I felt we were fitter, more resilient, and quicker, and I felt these attributes would prove to be our saving grace.
As you can imagine, the intensity of the moment was high. Everyone in the locker room was preparing themselves in their own unique way. One of my ways to help prepare the team was to take the captain to the side and give him a few last words of encouragement.
That particular night I said, “You know as well as I do that they’re going to come out swinging at us. They’re going to hit hard, try to intimidate us, and wear us down. All we have to do is survive the barrage for one period. If we can do that, our superior resiliency and speed will prevail, and they won’t be able to sustain our energy.”
In this regard, as the guy in charge of their physical development, I was preparing my guys for the resistance – the resistance that was waiting on the other side of the ice, bent on keeping us from the championship – a goal that we felt was worthy of accomplishing.
“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
I tell you this story because of the way it parallels life. As I look back throughout my life, I realize I’ve never achieved a worthy cause, or made some positive change in the lives of others or myself, without challenge, obstacles, and even uncertainty. It’s almost as if there is a living, breathing entity pushing back against our good, right, and worthy goals.
Moreover, good and worthy work takes great resilience, endurance, and energy to accomplish. Why? Because you have an opponent standing on the other side of the ice looking to keep you from achieving your goal, and he’s going to headhunt you and try to beat you into submission. He’s the enemy of all that’s good, right, and worthy and he will resist.
Jesus tells us of this enemy – this living, breathing Resistance in John 10:10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The problem with so many of us is the fact that many times we allow our foe to intimidate, grind us down, and beat us into submission. But we must stand and resist knowing that our foe is defeated and is simply a loud, defeated, lying enemy who loves to use doubt and fear to keep us from creating life-giving good.
But we must endure. We must be resilient. We must outlast the enemy, not with our own strength, but with submission to God, our teammate in the fight. We fight back with the truth that brings life – the truth of Jesus.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you are fighting a life-threatening disease. Maybe you’re working on a project that, if accomplished, will help many people and the challenges you’re coming against are more than enough to make you give up. Maybe you’re trying to heal your marriage, or relationship with a family member or friend. Or maybe you’re in school and feel like the stress and strain is too much for you to continue.
If that’s you then listen carefully:
Your enemy is going to keep swinging. He’s going to try to hit you hard, intimidate you, and wear you down. All you have to do is endure today and keep fighting. Survive the barrage for one more day. Let your superior resiliency and energy from God almighty keep driving you forward. Recognize the fear and doubt for what it is, the last weapons of a defeated foe. When you feel the Resistance, realize that it is a great sign that you are on the right path and keep going. Pray. Pray. Pray. And never forget the name of Jesus.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Seek. Adapt. Endure. And Go Forth.
(For more posts like this, check out Mike’s blog: https://mikesandershp.com/blog)