I'll never forget it. I was 19; the newest member of a very small band of brothers. We weren't an official group on the Baylor University campus, by any means, these "Russell Rats." We had no membership roster, no board of directors or rules and regulations to speak of, but we were very exclusive. And although we weren't organized, we did pay our dues -- dues of a different kind that were collected daily. As far as acceptance into the group, well, it just happened. Call it a nonverbal recognition of pure heart. If you had it, you were in. And rather than Greek letters across our chest, we had chalk and sweat across our backs. There was no mistaking our crew. In the late 80s, a small family of guys came one by one into the best (and only) fitness center on campus, Russell Gymnasium. The gym itself was actually a corner hole-in-the-wall within a bigger auditorium of basketball courts, with a two-tone, green concrete wall separating the outdated Universal equipment and rusty dumbbells from the courts next door.
Well, one sunny Waco afternoon, at a campus-wide celebration called Diadeloso (Day of the Bear), the group decided to enter itself into the annual tug-of-war competition. We wanted nothing more than to show the fraternities what real strength felt like. After a lot of hooplah, we marched -- in slow motion if I recall -- onto the sand. We could hear the audible gasp from the opposition. We nodded to one another with pre-victory smiles. After all, not only were we obviously strong, we had ourselves a plan. We reasoned that because we outweighed the competition, only half the team would pull when the whistle blew. And when one of us gave the signal, the rest of us would begin pulling. Trust me. We had it covered.
Well, we found our grip as our competition found theirs. I remember they were a preppy bunch. Handsome. But no doubt mismatched. We did our best not to giggle. The referee raised his hand to alert the start of the match and the whistle blew. And?!.....We got crushed.
Within 20 seconds, we were pulled across the line. It felt as if the rope was somehow cleverly tied to a Ford F-150. What happened you ask? Well, a couple things actually. First, they had seven guys and we had six. Completely fair because the only limit was total weight, but an extra pair of arms pays off come to find out. But I think we lost miserably because we were overly confident and planned poorly.
Why the long stroll down memory lane? Well, if I learned anything that day as I lay face down, swallowing dirt and pride, it's that we can never underestimate the enemy in life, and we can't wait to start pulling. Plainly said, we have to give it all we have, never saving anything for the second half, the second set, the climb down, or the swim back. We can't wait to share Christ, visit the widow, give to the needy. The fact that you're reading and I'm typing means we're knee deep in sand and it's quick.
Friends, we have to be humble constantly and plan wisely. In every area of life, be it with quiet times, workouts, relationships, school, work...a humble heart and wisdom will please God every time. So hang on tight. And when the sun comes up and you've given God your day, just start pulling.
P.S. Four years later, I led a team of seven onto the sand. We won every match but the last one; to a team of...eight.
For Discussion: Are you waiting to pull with your life? Your quiet times with the Lord? Your health? If I can help you start pulling, talk to me. I want to help. And if you have similar memories where you were humbled, please share!
GIVE TO PRAYFIT MINISTRIES: Well my friends, I mentioned it last week and it's official. We are a non-profit organization. I am so humbled and excited about what God is doing and what He will do. Everything - from our daily devotions to the new small group curriculum we're developing and ambassador programs, to next year's PrayFit Rise Conference - will all fall under the non-profit umbrella of PrayFit Ministries. And we need you. Pulling together never meant so much to me. I'll say it again. We need you.
Guys, it's through your giving that all of it will be made possible. Having a heart for what we've done over the last 6 years, perhaps you'd love to be a part of sponsoring the conference or anything we're doing at PrayFit on a daily basis. If so, please click the GIVE button on the home page. You can make a one-time donation of any amount or perhaps become a monthly sponsor of any amount. Nothing is too big or too small, and we are grateful to partner with you. I've never been very good at selling merchandise, and I know I'm not very savvy at fundraising, but all I know is what the good Lord has placed upon my heart to do with my life and this ministry. May all we do together bring glory the Lord.