When I hit age 30, I discovered the pounds didn't stay off like they did before. Over time the weight kept creeping up and up, and I always justified my condition by saying, "Well, I'm not that fat." But what I chose to compare it with kept on changing. When a number of friends were successful in losing weight quickly, I decided to try their method. It worked. I lost 45 pounds in about 6 months and looked and felt better than I ever had.
That was two years ago. Since then, twenty more pounds have added their way back into my life. And I've struggled to find a way to keep it off. You see, I get into these modes where I feel like I need to eat whatever is in front of me. Obsessively. Friday night I went to an Amish wedding reception. We had some wonderful food with a lot of variety. At the end of the meai, after sampling all five desserts, they passed candy bars. Not snack size, really big candy bars. Everyone around me chose and tucked it away for later. Not me, I found the large KitKat, opened it, and ate the whole thing right away. I don't know why.
This morning as I read the news, I saw that the Broncos lost to the Seahawks again. I'm a life-long Colts fan so I know the agony and joy of watching Peyton Manning's teams play football. Throwing the ball can win you a lot of games, but having a consistent running game is what keeps you in the tough games. As Manning said it, "Of course being down two scores we became one-dimensional, which is not what you want against these guys. Being one-dimensional wasn't working for us."
In losing weight, I've always wanted the magic bullet, the long pass (interestingly enough, called the Hail Mary) I could throw to quickly get the result I wanted. I've resisted the running game, the daily discipline that makes new habits, guards the weak moments, and exercises daily. Being one-dimensional isn't working for me.
Too many times we do that in our spiritual lives as well. We show up at church once a week (or maybe every other week, or once a month) and we figure that will take care of our spiritual needs. We may be disciplined in other areas of our lives, but this Jesus calling is relegated to the periphery. Then we look for that conference, that momentous Sunday morning experience that completes the long pass and gets us closer to the goal, But we never develop the running game.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2a (NIV)
In what area do you need to develop a running game, a daily consistent practice that changes your life? Is about food and exercise like me? Is it in your own spiritual development through Bible reading and prayer? In building relationships with friends, spouse or children? Join me in this challenge. Over the next week, choose two things. One that you throw off, and one that you put on. Don't make them overly ambitious or big. Just make them small and consistent.
What might you add? It might be to play with your kids 10 minutes each day. To kiss your spouse in the morning. To read the Bible for 5 minutes each day. To pray 5 minutes each day. To be in bed by a certain time each night. To keep it to one Netflix show per day in the series you're watching. To say one thing daily about your appreciation for what God has done.
What might you throw off? Count to ten when you feel an urge to blow up in anger. The food after 7 pm. Your extra beverage each day. Shorten hobby time by ten minutes. No phone at the supper table. Cut out a certain category of food completely. Negative conversations about others. Your secret sin.
Then on Wednesday, October 1, we'll start a new adventure together for forty days, until November 9. Tell others what you're planning to do. I'll keep checking in with you on this blog to see how it's going. Join the Facebook group I've set up. We'll call it the Ground Game Challenge.
If you want to share it with others, here is a template you can you use: I'm taking the Ground Game Challenge. Starting October 1, I will take 40 days to consistently stop ______________ and will start ______________. Share and join with me if you want to develop a new habit and drop an old one. #groundgamechallenge bit.do/groundgamechallenge