I see decisions we make to be the equivalent of exploding from the blocks, at the start of a 100m sprint. With every moment a decision made, the importance of getting it right is paramount. Cleaning up the mess of poor decisions and re-training our block-starts, in life, is hard and sometimes painful. Especially when we reach that point where poor choices are habitual.
Any sprinter will tell you, practicing your start takes hours and hours of finagling angles of the body’s joints and placement of the starting blocks. Why? Because exploding in a leap of faith, from a poorly placed foundation prevents you from performing to your fullest potential. Ultimately, it makes the difference between winning and losing, remembering that, in a 100m sprint, 2nd place is the first loser. No one takes to the starting line to lose.
I miss the rush of adrenaline that Track & Field brings. Preparing for the start is a powerful experience that you only really feel in individual sports, I find. There is no one to hide behind, no one to blame or bless for your performance. It’s just you and your preparation against the one thing nobody can cheat: Father Time.
As you warm up, you channel your adrenaline from fear to aggression. It’s time to impose, as opposed to being exposed. As you stride out and open your legs in preparation, they feel like jelly and your whole body becomes a computer, as every muscle fiber communicates with your brain. Sensitivity is on Level: 1000. In a few mins, it’ll all be over. Months, sometimes years, of practice have been undertaken in order to produce just a few seconds of perfection. You think back over the practice hours. The injuries overcome, sessions carried out in inclement weather, those times when it was just you and the rain. Ultimately, good athletes remind themselves why it is that there is no reason for them to finish second on this day. No one and nothing else matters.
When the moment arrives, you are called to your marks.
The position of commitment. Decision time…
In the Set position, for a small moment, you aren’t you. You are Preparation and Instinct. A human machine. Within a second, you calculate the finest of every detail.
You feel for good foot contact on each block. You feel for the angles of the hip joints to be just as you practiced. Not too great, not too small. There can be NO time spent working through a negative phase. Milliseconds count. Your poise brings your shoulders slightly forward of your wrist. It’s uncomfortable but you’ve practiced this. It comes with the territory. Then you focus on a speck of floor, a few inches above eye-level. Your heart beats through your chest, rapidly, pumping adrenaline through your body like high-octane fuel…
Your entire being goes from zero to one hundred in a tenth of a second. The good foot contact ensures there is no sinking of the ankle, enabling every leg muscle to extend the hip, as over 3000 watts of power is sent through the starting blocks, propelling you towards the finish line.
Imagine if we realized that the choices we make, in our lives, were just as the moment described?
Whether it is a choice made on what to eat or a choice made on what career field you should be in, choices, large and granular, have put us where we are now.
I pondered my life the other day, in the best way I know how. I ran!
My 36th year, headed to my 40th, is going to be iconic but I’ve become aware of really poor choices I’ve made and have come to see how I’ve often moved in circles, facing the same choice over and over again. At first, it was always seen as ‘the enemy’ robbing me of my blessing but now I see more clearly. Understanding that the Lord is, first and foremost, our father, I’m able to rationalize that my inability to reach the next level and, ultimately, my purpose, is because He sees that my decision-making has deemed me not ready to move up. I’m coming out of the blocks all wrong.
As a Christian, your foundation and your blocks are already set firm and sure. This is because our standard isn’t our own. All we have to do is be in the right position when the gun goes. When decision time hits, the instinctive reaction should be a leap of faith from a position that is correctly set in the foundation we have been provided with.
Obviously, there are times you will get the start right and move on to the next level. For me, there are too many times when I’ve come out the blocks with angles too small and angles too great. In a 100m sprint, angles slightly in any direction can have drastic impact on your performance. Within the same remit, slight angular discrepancies in our choices can have drastic impact on our performance. Not just in our Christian development but in our every day life as well.
When it comes to my personal story, regarding choices and, chiefly, the repetitively poor ones, I have to akin myself with Samson. A raw, hot-blooded (pretty literally!) man. Given a purpose, knows his purpose but has to deal with a side of himself that is as raw as his purpose is refined. Other guys like me will agree that, even though we have a purpose and know our purpose, we are harassed with a particular weakness. A weakness that ALWAYS presents itself and has us going through this training cycle of block-starts over and over again. For Samson, it was women and I’m pretty certain a lot of us men fall under the same judgement. Maybe for someone else, it is money or a career. Whatever it is, it has us transgressing the law time and time again and I speak from experience when I say, the consequences, just as for Samson, get more and more severe. It’s the onset of a seducing spirit (Sometimes referred to as the Delilah spirit) and the way in which it brought Samson to his knees that also has me associating myself with his story.
Something that I’d like to raise about Samson is that Samson wasn’t a player. He wasn’t a man that simply wanted get with any female breathing life. I believe Samson’s issue was that he fell for women very easily. To the point he would break the law he was under to please her. Hence the seducing spirit.
This isn’t to say, for the politically correct reading this blog, that all women are creatures of seduction. For Samson, there was a spirit that used individuals to play on his weakness. I share this weakness. It’s called an overwhelmingly loving character. Yes, I’m about to defend Samson’s spot!
Love will always leave the lover open to hurt and seduction but we often see that this is when said lover is out of position. For Samson’s 3 mentioned failings, he was out of the position he should have been in (Physically. However, spiritually this was ordained by God). None of the three women we hear of were of his own country and the situations he would have been in to meet them were also against the grain of the law laid out for a Jewish man at that time. Also, Samson was a Nazarite. Simply put, leading up to his final rendezvous with Delilah, Samson gives us plenty of ‘Wait… What?!’ moments to ponder. These were his poor decisions. These were his incorrect block starts.
The Seducing Spirit.
Seducing spirits are fascinating to me. Maybe a strange statement but they are, as I’m fascinated with how the human body and mind work. Seducing spirits manipulate truth to caress human pride. Their ability to remove men and women from their rightful position is both remarkable and terrible at the same time and their accuracy is like that of a sniper. It’s the seducing spirit that begins downfall by having us believe that we can do it without God. Adam and Eve being the first example. For the Theologians out there, room could be made to suggest the first example was satan bringing a third of the angels with him when he was cast from heaven. That’s a totally different blog, though!
I believe words are exceptionally powerful. We see in Revelation 8:3-4 that the ‘prayers of the saints’ have a physical form as ‘smoke of the incense’. Matthew 12:36 also tells us how every man will have to give an account of every idle word he speaks. ‘Abracadabra!’ comes from a root word meaning, “With my words, I create.” This is a genuine incantation used by witches and reinforces my belief that we can become the product of statements leaving our mouths.
Judges 16:7, to me, is the beginning of the end for Samson. It was the first documented time that he verbally admits A weakness. At this point, the work of the seducing spirit is done. Samson’s position is now compromised, and permanently. Even if Samson, at this point had escaped, the source of his strength would have spread like wildfire.
After being broken down for a large part of his manhood, Samson finally caved, speaking his own fate.
I believe, as with many characters of the Bible, we are given a synopsis of Samson’s life. I find it difficult to believe that Samson only clashed with the Philistines a handful of times and, given his weakness, I would totally disagree with Samson only ever being with 3 females, especially seeing as one was a harlot, hailing from Gaza. Samson was a well-known gentleman throughout Israel and throughout Philistia. THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME that Samson came under pressure, from a female, as to the source of his strength.
Positioning, at the point of decision and action is so paramount. I’m only seeing it myself as I type.
It’s sad to see the final suffocation and succumbing of Samson. He goes from admitting his weakness to then affirming the fact he has a weakness. That is, when he was then bound with something a little stronger. Then he directs Delilah to his hair and she weaves it into a weaver’s machine before he finally caves in totally and she cuts his hair off.
It’s crazy that Samson was so smitten by her, he became powerless to walk away, powerless to say no. Love, taken for granted. Are you, reader, allowing your Love to be taken for granted? Are you in position, aligned with your purpose, to answer the question correctly?
Thought. Wow. Being out of position can cost you your life, as it did for Samson.
Every one of Samson’s decisions was based on previous experience. Every time he left the blocks, the Lord had him come back and practice again. 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Matthew 11:30 are good examples of where we are shown that the Lord will not give us more than we can handle. In that, it would not only make him a bad father but it would also make him a liar if he were to allow us to make it to the next level when we are not ready. Hence the necessity for continual training. It isn’t simple sadism. Sadistic behaviour is not a behaviour God displays, in spite of some believing so. He just wants us to make sure we can perform on the level we are aiming for and that’s why our positioning is so important.
When the gun goes at the start of a 100m sprint, there is a massive amount of power generated in the leap of faith that occurs. Indeed, Usain Bolt, when at speed, can exert over 1000lbs of pressure, through the floor, in less than a quarter of a second.
When angles are too great, the leap also has too great an angle. This causes the body to become upright too quickly. I’ve been here. It is soul-destroying when you know you have come up too quickly and you are passed by others in the race, who’s acceleration period lasted much longer than yours.
Likewise, in terms of choice. When your angles are too great, you can come up too quickly. This is symptomatic of operating above your ability. Sometimes this is through excitement and being eager. At others, unfortunately, it is due to some simply operating above their station. People that wish to be seen. Ultimately, both scenarios are a result of confidence in one’s self, as opposed to God.
The result of coming up too quickly is that of hardship. Any headwind will hit you that much longer than if you were to have driven for a longer period of time and then, of course, there is that discouragement from watching others come from behind you to pass you. Interestingly, the only thing that you can do at this point is retain form. You can only go through the motions and cover the distance, while giving testimony of going up the rough side of the mountain.
The experience of positioning with angles too great in the blocks can lead a Christian to then start with angles too tight. My honest belief is that, by the time Samson got to meeting Delilah, he was here. The same can be said of many men and women. The same can be said of me on many occasion.
When your angles are too tight, the leap of faith is done from hurt and the fear of letting go and letting God. The heels are often brought away from the block at this point, meaning the ankle sinks, costing time when the gun goes, and certain of the leg muscles are not used to full potential in the leap of faith. Thus leading to a lack of extension of the hip, resulting in shorter, more labored steps. It is also possible for the toe to drag, which can see you stumble and fall. I should know. I’ve been there, physically as well as spiritually. The pain and embarrassment can cause you to walk away altogether.
There are only 3 women mentioned, in order to give us example of Samson’s life. All three used him for personal gain. When Samson met Delilah, he just couldn’t take anymore. She wasn’t the ultimate breaker of men. She was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. After years of holding it together, Samson leaped from the blocks, relying on himself and paid the ultimate price.
Are you making decisions from that place of hurt? Have you given up on relying on God and are at a point where you are fearful of extending, in faith, from the foundation He has provided?
I find it interesting that, as people, we crave something so much that we are willing to let remove ourselves from our standards in order to obtain it. Samson left his calling as, not just a Jewish man, but as a Nazarite. Further, and most saddening, we are never told of Samson’s purpose. All of the judges of Israel had one but Samson committed suicide. Yes, he took a large amount of Philistines with him in the process but this time, when he came in line with his purpose, it cost him his own life.
So, how does one practice to get the art of decision-making right? How do we avoid coming out of the blocks with the wrong angles?
Myelination is the process carried out by the brain to secure neurological pathways of remembrance. Put simply, the more you do it, the better you do it!
As you practice getting out of the blocks more and more, with the knowledge and guidance of getting it right, the more proficient you become at doing it. Your brain begins to secure communication paths just for that particular movement so that, when called upon, your body will, almost, worry about nothing else.
In that we are always in God’s presence (He is omnipotent), he takes the role of Coach. Communication with him takes the form of prayer. I kind of see this as turning up to the track for practice. It’s that one-on-one time, where a bond is developed and where your coach provides you with feedback on you and how you are performing. It’s also a time for chastisement, when you aren’t applying yourself. Interestingly, in this time, it is the coach that does most of the talking. Imagine taking that into your prayer life!
While away from the track, it’s important to dedicate yourself to your goal. In this, the 21st Century, Google, YouTube and a plethora of online resources are at our disposal to fine tune our craft. The Word of God. For some, it is the book on the bedside table, that has managed to gather dust (Some are honest and say they don’t read it, others try to convince me that they regularly turn the pages on their smart phone. Anyway…!). For others it is the book they always have around, pages falling out of well-thumbed leather binding. Whatever state it is in, it is the study manual every Christian needs to be attentive to. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Interestingly, alongside the shield of faith, it is the only part of the armour of God, spoken of in Ephesians 6, that is only operational when used dynamically. Static, it has no use and we see it used in dynamic form by Jesus himself, when he was tempted by satan in Matthew 4. Every response was a direct response from the Word of God and to every response there was no argument.
In that the Word and Faith are both useless when static, we come to the final point.
James 2 tells us that Faith, without works, is dead. Romans 10 tells us that Faith ultimately comes by the Word of God. Further, John 1:1 tells us that God IS his Word. That being said, I believe God, his Word and our Faith, therefore, can be linked in the following sentence, to effect an explosion to perform at your fullest potential:
“Know God (as opposed to know OF God) and use his Word to understand where he wants you to be. Then take the leap of Faith in HIS confidence.”
It may be that you have to try several times. It may be that you have your angles too great or too small to start off with but, in that you are operating in Faith, you CANNOT give up because to give up leaves you stuck in the blocks, going nowhere, fast.