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Four Seconds

Just when you think about giving up, just when you think you don’t have any left, just when you feel like your fear is too strong to push through…take a breath…calm your nerves…focus your mind on finishing the race victorious…and realize that in your career, in your parenting, in your marriage, in your family, in your life…you may just be four seconds away from greatness.

Men are creatures of phrases and quotes. Sometimes I think that’s the only reason we may watch movies, is to obtain pithy, new sayings to entertain our friends with. Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell have provided more than enough hours of conversation-filled banter simply through the use of quotes. Some of them, we use in certain circles of friends. A handful of guys will never forget Coach John Carlisle trying to motivate us at 6am by informing us its “a great day to be an Eagle.” But for all I try, I can’t remember who first told me to “leave it on the field.”

It’s a simple phrase really, but it carries so much weight for those who have heard or used it. It can be seen when you survey the sideline in the last quarter of a football game and notice everyone holding up four fingers. It’s in the thousand-yard stare of the sprinter who is already visualizing how they are going to cross the finish line victoriously. Vince Lombardi said it best, “I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious” And there’s nothing more frustrated to have finished and realized that you had some left.

My first PT test here was that way. I ran the two miles in 14:43. Respectable, and above the standard, but not up to my standard…as I knew I had a better run time somewhere in me. My assistant was telling me that he doesn’t consider it an all-out effort if he isn’t throwing up afterwards, and that was enough of a challenge for me. Six months later, I had it down to 13:22, but I missed maxing the test (and getting the extra points from over-maxing my sit-ups and push-ups) by 4 seconds. 4 Seconds! That was infuriating, because had I known my time I definitely had it in my to sprint those last 100 meters and make up those four seconds. Next time…I own that run.

But so much of life isn’t measured in seconds. So much isn’t overtly quantified for us, so that we may gauge our successfulness. We so rarely know by just how much we may have missed greatness. And therein lies the idea of pouring oneself out…leaving it ALL on the field. Hold nothing back.

"Attack rapidly, ruthlessly, viciously, without rest, however tired and hungry you may be, the enemy will be more tired, more hungry. Keep punching." –Gen. George S. Patton.

What little voice makes you want to quit? What fears do you continually fight? What is holding you back from greatness? Ask Dave and Santiago (in a week or so) how much of running is completely mental. Ask Stuart how faint the heart of a minister can grow in the face of opposition. Ask Cleaver how much one must follow the heart and not just the head of God through the darkness of life. Ask Corie how a little girl can rewrite her narrative and become victorious. Ask Kimmy why you can’t let your past or your future dominate your life today. Ask Jennifer how much of life you really are in control.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one's fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave.” – Ambrose Redmoon

Paul knew such courage: (2 Corinthians 11)

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

I love that he finishes this litany with the phase that above all of this, he was still concerned for all the churches, not himself.

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” - David Herbert Lawrence

The battle for our lives and our greatness lies in our minds…nowhere else. Why is it that someone with a physical handicap can achieve more greatness and success in their life than someone with a completely healthy body? It is the end-of-the-newscast filler every evening. Some inspiring story about someone who shouldn’t have made it….making it big time. I am convinced that the sole reason lies in embracing adversity, facing our fears and leaving it on the field. Hoping to not offend, I call it the “midget in the ring” syndrome. We let something win against us that shouldn’t. We succumb to our fears and forget just how much power we have been given to rewrite our own narrative and not that little insignificant voice of doubt and despair win over us.

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul in prison in Philippi (Philippians 4)

What is it going to take for you to leave it on the field? When are you going to realize that in everything, in every way you are already on the field of battle…to win the hearts and minds of your family and friends…to preserve yourself? Every moment counts and you can’t let up. I know, the prospect of it seems exhausting, but to live a life without regret, knowing that you gave it everything you had, that you chose the road less travelled by, that you chose to run the hill and not the flat ground, that you didn’t choose the easy way out, that you accepted the challenge, that you took the risk, that you made a stand for integrity and morality, for what you know in your heart is the right thing to do, to trust that God said he would never leave nor forsake us, that when you throw off that which hinders and the sin which so easily entangles…there is a prize at the end.

Just when you think about giving up, just when you think you don’t have any left, just when you feel like your fear is too strong to push through…take a breath…calm your nerves…focus your mind on finishing the race victorious…and realize that in your career, in your parenting, in your marriage, in your family, in your life…you may just be four seconds away from greatness.

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