On Praising God During Loss and Failure: How Pride Cost me a Race and Humility Won a Relationship with Christ

failure post

I trained nearly a year for this race–for the entire season–and now the time has come. Several BeachBody exercise programs, along with running, chiseled me into an obstacle course race war machine. And I praised God, giving him the glory for it all along the way.

Through exercise and discipline, I went from this:

to this:

 

 

 

And then, God took it all away.

What went wrong? Did I not promise to give him glory with every victory, with every medal, with every sweat, mud, and blood-drenched triumph? Was I not designing a ministry out of racing and fitness, a philosophy of spiritual and physical health?

Was I not…I. I, I, me, me, my, my.

The signs manifested all around me, the warnings along the road as I pummeled toward a cliff with arrogance like NOS burning through my engine.

“Andrew, you’re losing too much weight.”

“Andrew be careful, pride can disguise itself as anything, even a ministry.”

“Who are you really doing all this for? God or yourself?”

“What you’re doing is no longer healthy. Exercise has taken over your life.”

“SHUT UP! I know what I’m doing!”

Pride and arrogance wear many disguises…and so do the messages of God. We ask him to speak to us, to guide us, but how often do we gaze beyond the brother or sister in Christ before us because we’re expecting a blazing angel or burning bush?

The warnings continued for weeks, but I ignored them, I removed myself from Church–the Body of Christ–I removed myself from the assembly of God’s Kingdom because I was building my own. No one understood me. I had surpassed them all. How could ants possibly comprehend the giant among them? I was on the war path for God. I would win souls for heaven by facing OCR giants on the field and claiming victory in the name of Jesus.

You were either with me or against me. My ally or my enemy.

Then, God had enough.

One morning, while in the midst of a 10-mile run, a pain like hot coals burned inside my knee. I was brought low and could not run any longer. But this would not defeat me, so I waited a few days and resumed weight training. Then, an old hip injury flared.

I fell to the ground, wounded, immobilized on the battlefield. Little did I know that it was God I had wrestled with all along.

And I had been defeated.

For weeks he tried to reach me through friends, family–the Church, but like a child hell-bent on destruction, there was only one way to stop the juggernaut. God had to bring me to my knees so I would have no other choice than to stop and look up.

“My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” -Proverbs 3: 11-12

This injury cost me nearly two months of training. I lashed out in anger, even succumbed to emotional overeating, but God did not wrestle me any further; he simply let me burn until I lay in my own ashes, exhausted.

I missed my first Spartan Race and lost most of my endurance. I strained and wounded many relationships, most of which had guided me into the Church. Pride, not hatred, is the opposing force to love, because pride has us fold in on ourselves like a black hole, whereas we were created to be like stars which glow and reach out with warmth and light.

Forced to slow down–to stop–I regained perspective. The fog and dust of war settled around me and the damage was great. I finally saw how much pride and arrogance lay beneath the surface of my life, and now my heart was flayed upon, ready for repair. I confessed my sins to Church and friends, because our sins are not private affairs, for our hearts are like water wells for the community of faith, and poison in one poisons all.

I now understand my weakness, I’ve identified the thorn in my side; the enemy has one less place to hide.

Now, I prepare for a BattleFrog Race in Winnsboro, South Carolina. I am not ready. I am not fit for battle. I am in no shape to win. There is no chance for the victory I had prepared for.

And I thank God.

In falling God is slowly and patiently teaching me how to walk, only this time with stronger legs, surely footed in him and his Church. This will take time, for I have many wounds which require healing and many lessons ahead, but perhaps one day I will run again, perhaps one day I will fight for victory, but only by God’s will. Because I would rather be a servant in God’s court, where slaves become the sons of God, than the ruler of my own life, where kings fade into dust.

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