Varsity Wrestling by Mike Belgard

May 2, 2019 - I will never forget the 2000 Olympics in Sydney Australia. History was made in the sport of wrestling. Alexander Kareli the giant strongman Russian who had dominated the ultra heavyweight division for 13 years was defeated. He had not only been undefeated for thirteen years but had not allowed his opponents to score a single point against him in over six years. But in the 2000 Olympics he was defeated by the young American Roulon Gardner who was smaller and less experienced. The wrestling world was shocked by this surprise upset. Although Roulon was strong he could not out muscle Alexander, so he used form, intelligence, and technique to score the winning point against his opponent.

Our spiritual life is a lot like that. We are in a constant wrestling match with the devil. We are not stronger than he is but we have the ultimate coach, who gives us the tools that we need to take on the devil and defeat him.

Ephesians 6: 10-13 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

To be successful in wrestling there are three things that you must posses: strength, (intelligence) wisdom, and endurance. Paul tells us in these passages that spiritual wrestling is no different. So let us look at these three in closer detail, so that we might utilize these principles to help us in our daily struggles with the enemy in our lives.

1. Strength. The emphasis here is on where we get our strength. When we gain our strength from God, we are tapping into a strength that far exceeds our human abilities. God tells Joshua and the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” We need to realize when we are in the midst of a battle and we feel like we cannot go on any longer, or we feel like our strength is failing, that we do have a strength that comes from God that is unfailing. Just as physical strength is required to succeed at Olympic wrestling, so spiritual strength is required to succeed at spiritual wrestling. Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (or gives me strength)."

2. Wisdom. If you are going to beat your opponent you need to study him so that you know his every move. You must use wisdom to defeat Him. In Matthew 10:16 Jesus sends out His disciple with this command: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Jesus knew that His disciples were going to face some serious resistance from the devil so he warned them to be wise in the way of knowing who their enemy was and what he was capable of. We need to ask God everyday for wisdom.

Proverbs 3:5-8 has always been my "life" scripture. It keeps me grounded and reminds me where I need to get wisdom from. It says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones."

3. Endurance. We must understand that we are in this fight to win it. We have to be prepared to stay in until the end. When you give up you lose. In Hebrews 12:1-2 the writer tells us that "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Life is tough there are many things that can trip us up, and make us stumble. But we have to get up, brush ourselves off, and continue to run this race we call life. You can't quit just because you stumble and fall. God knows that is going to happen to us from time to time. You see its not about how you start the race, or how hard the race is with all the obstacles, its how you finish, and that you finish that counts. If we keep these principle we will be able to say what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Just like Roulon Gardner received that Gold medal, we too are going to receive a crown because God loves fighters, finishers, and keepers (standers).

I'm Just Sayin,
Mike Belgard