Recently, I was at my brother-in-law’s boxing match. His match was number 10/15, so I had plenty of time on my hands. My family got there early and as I was sitting there waiting, I scanned the arena which was set up in a church gymnasium. In front of me was the ring and surrounded on all four sides were guests and the competitors, each competitor anxiously waiting for their turn.
As I was looking at the ring, I noticed the saying, “The Greatness Within” written on all sides.
In boxing, there are months and years of training to prepare your body mentally and physically to compete as a hobby or professionally. Your mind must be sharp, you must be quick and alert, know when to block, punch, back up, then turn fast in an instant. You must pay attention to your opponent, to your trainer’s voice, and to your surroundings. It takes everything that boxers have to win the match.
However, when I read the words, “The Greatness Within” I was reminded of the spiritual reference. I tend to forget that no matter how hard I train and work towards my goals and even succeed at them, my true “Greatness Within” is not me or my hard work, it is the Holy Spirit. The One who guides, strengthens, and who intercedes for me. The Holy Spirit does more work on my behalf than I will ever do for myself. He is not only working behind the scenes; He is also on the frontlines helping me to succeed with whatever life throws my way.
One of the most comforting verses in the Bible, when you are struggling, comes from Romans 8:26-27:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Imagine a boxer in the heat of the match, his mind is busy deciding which way to move. He is in pain, exhausted, using his whole body to win the match. He can only see what is in front of him and sometimes he can only see his gloves when he is blocking multiple punches, but his trainer can see everything and calls out to him with instructions, encouragement and sometimes chastisement.
The same is true with the Holy Spirit, but on a higher scale. The Holy Spirit, living within us, knows our every thought and struggle. He knows exactly what is going on around us and knows exactly the path we need to take. He prays for us when we have no strength left to pray, He intercedes on our behalf, without us asking, because he knows exactly what we need and knows exactly what God has planned for us. When we are being bombarded with punches and see no way out, the Holy Spirit is already working on the escape plan, we just have to listen.
Guidance is a two-way transaction. The boxer up in the ring is fighting, he knows he is winning, he knows every move and punch is precise, but his trainer keeps calling out with different moves and instructions. He ignores them because he knows he is winning. The trainer is getting frustrated and calling out in anger for him to listen because he sees what is about to happen. His fall. This leads into another duty of the Holy Spirit, which is guidance, as stated in Galatians 5:25:
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
This can be a very hard verse to read because it is the opposite of what we want to do, but it is what we need to do. If you have the Holy Spirit within you, you must “keep in step with the Spirit,” to walk right alongside, to listen and obey His guidance. In order for the boxer to play his best game, he must make his own split-second decisions, while simultaneously listening to his trainer for new directions or for encouragement to continue on the path he is on.
So often, I think life is going great and I have all the answers and then a still voice guides me in a different direction, but I do not want to listen because I think my path is correct. “Why not? My path has been working great so far.” We must remember that the Holy Spirit sees the whole picture, what lies behind, what is happening at the moment and what lies ahead. In order to be successful, we must yield to his guidance. So many times, if I had only been more aware and in the moment and had realized what seemed to be random thoughts were actually guidance from the Holy Spirit, my day would have gone in a whole different direction.
Whether a boxer wins or loses a match, it is the trainer’s job to point out weaknesses that need to be worked on, to encourage and to strengthen him mentally and physically for next time. The Holy Spirit also strengthens you, but with a completely different outcome as explained in Ephesians 3:16-19:
“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The Holy Spirit strengthens you in order to fully understand and experience the Love of Christ, where you “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” We cannot understand the love of Christ or be filled with the fullness of God, without the Holy Spirit. I believe the New Living Translation explains the last verse, Ephesians 3:19 the best, “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
It makes me smile to remember that I get the pleasure to walk with God and have a relationship with him. That God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit has me surrounded by love all working toward a common goal of my sanctification, to be set apart in righteousness for His glory. And no matter how hard I push against his leading, when I am trapped in my sin, no matter how hard I fight against being obedient, the Holy Spirit is not sitting on the outside of the ring coaching me or giving up on me, He is inside the ring not only fighting with me, but for me. I am joining Him in the fight that had already begun.
The Holy Spirit is growing and training you for eternity. What are you fighting for today and how is God fighting for you through it?
Lauren Ortiz is an introverted, self-employed, work-at-home mom. She has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Southeast Missouri State University and a Masters in Biblical Studies from Temple Baptist Seminary. When she is not writing, reading children’s lit or spending time with her family, she is helping guests create long lasting memories with her family photo booth business. Her ambition is to spread encouragement when life seems bleak.