Why is it that we can work so much harder when we compete with someone? What is it about competition that allows our mind to free the body to go further and faster than we thought possible?
This morning in boot camp, we had a little competition. If the person in back of you passed you by, they got a point, and if you did the same, you got a point. We did all sorts of weird things like shuffle through tires , hopscotch through a ladder, step up and down from a platform, and hop on our hands and one leg. It was grueling. And doable, I found, because of the competition. I shuffled harder, hopscotched faster, and stepped and hopped longer because I didn’t want the guy behind me to get a point.
I wanted to win. And this desire to win allowed my mind to bypass the pain and exhaustion my body was experiencing. For a few short moments in time, my sweaty self was free of the demands my mind normally placed upon it. The boundaries of how much I could do and how much pain I could tolerate were temporarily suspended by my desire for success.
I have experienced this phenomena before when challenged and it always amazes me how much more I have to give—even when I feel like I am empty. That sudden surge of ability is directly correlated to how much I desire to be excellent. And I am equally amazed at how much my mind limits me in the name of “protection”. My mind tries to convince me that I have done enough and I need to stop or I might experience pain or uncomfortableness or inconvenience.
Isn’t that exactly how we are when God asks us to step out of our comfy little lives and get involved in this scary world? Instead of jumping into God’s will with both feet, we give him excuses of why this is too hard, and why that is uncomfortable, and how this makes us feel like we can’t breath.
Shouldn’t we be spurring each other on, by our love and our good deeds? Shouldn’t this little bit of “competition” of outdoing each other in kindness make us be able to bypass our faulty perceptions of our own comfort? Shouldn’t our desire to be a good and faithful servant allow us to go faster and farther and harder—beyond where we could ever ask or imagine?
I think so. Let’s do it!
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27