So how much is too much? I was thinking about that as I watched the two basketball teams representing their respective conferences before the seventh game of the NBA finals. I always marvel at the lather these athletes work up before a game. Game six of the series had pushed the players beyond normal limits of emotion and exhaustion. Now, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat were preparing for what was a fantabulous game seven. So really, how much of a warm up is enough? How much energy do you expend before the actual competition begins in order to get your body ready to perform, while making sure you have the energy required to play, and hopefully, win the game? The answer is, of course, that these elite athletes started unique relationships with their bodies long before we ever heard their names. They pushed and cajoled and pushed and demanded and pushed and rested and pushed and pleaded until they could hear their bodies talking to them; feel their bodies’ need for one thing or another. In game five of the 1997 NBA finals, the game that has come to be known as the flu game, the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz had each one two games. The site of game five was Utah and the day before the game, Michael Jordan had flu-like symptoms as a result of a stomach virus or some sort of food poisoning. Whatever the case, Jordan was visibly pale and noticeably weak. His trainer told him that there was no way he would be able to play in game five. Oh but Michael had put the work in! He knew what his body could do because he had been there and pushed it for years. He had a relationship and an understanding of his body that no one else had – not even his trainer.
So what of the rest of us? How many of us push the way athletes do? After giving our lives to Christ, do we learn of Him, testing the limits of our Alliance? Are we familiar with the advantages of close and intimate relationship with Him? After years of practice and competition, athletes have a pretty firm grip on their capabilities; on what is necessary to nurture and nourish their bodies in order to perform. In the Alliance with Christ, are we cultivating and nurturing the relationship for optimum performance? (We need to be doing similar things in marriage, with the three-stranded cord, but that’s a story for another day). If properly cultivated, our Alliance will allow us to run headlong into our fears; to run through a fire wearing the gasoline drawers we sometimes feel we have on. We are assured that when we encounter deep waters, we won’t drown and when we walk through fire, we won’t burn because God is with us (Isaiah 43:2-3). And we have an added bonus; we have a Spirit that lives within, guiding us and bringing things to our remembrance (John 14:26). But we must know these things in order to recall them. What excuse do we have for not maximizing our personal Alliance? If we are diligent about our learning and if we exercise our knowledge, we can really experience increasing snatches of heaven right here on earth. Our fluid goal, as Christians, is to look more and more like Christ, to act more and more like Him. Are we moving in the direction of the goal; getting to know Him more completely; understanding what we can expect from Him (please see Galatians 2:20); maximizing the benefits of the Alliance?