I’m quite certain by this time many people have gone on with their lives and have forgotten that just weeks ago Muhammad Ali died. With so many other things happening in the world, we can easily become overwhelmed by the avalanche of tragic news and personal things that we have to face in our own daily lives. I remember Muhammad Ali’s death because it was one of the things I was writing about recently as I began writing a book about my own life.
Muhammad Ali represents the image that I get when I read scripture where Paul speaks of fighting the good fight of faith and the many other sports related analogies he eludes to when he speaks to the people of Corinth. Muhammad Ali represents the kind of athlete that comes to my mind because when he was in the ring as a boxer, he faced many great opponents. Some of them were taller than him, some larger, some had a longer reach, and eventually there were some who were younger than him. The one thing that many of them did not possess like he did was the hunger and determination to not quit.
Muhammad Ali fought with such a tenacious fervor that even up against his toughest opponents, he would determine in himself to outlast his opponent if it appeared that he did not have an advantage in any other way to defeat them.
This is a great inspiration for me because even in seeing him outside the ring as a fighter against life’s battles, such as Parkinson’s Disease, it reminds me that I too must be willing to fight and not quit when face to face with things that seem too great to overcome.
As someone who has lived through sickle cell anemia, growing up without a father, there were times when it felt like it would have been the easier thing to do just that. However, Paul told the Corinthians, “Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24 HCSB).”
Our lives are in a sense a marathon or race that we must complete. Our lives are not to be lived in such a way that if one thing goes wrong we can afford to sit out the race. For me, there are a number of reasons why quitting is not an option.
People Are Counting On Me: The amazing thing about me is that I have a family that is counting on me and looking up to me. As a husband and father, I have to set the example and the standard for completion. If I don’t show them what it looks like to complete a thing, they won’t have the motivation or the internal drive to follow suit. Beyond my family are other people in my community who may potentially see me as the motivation for their own success. As a minister or someone who has lived with sickle cell, the potential that they can see hope in my success can be something that builds courage in them to not quit.
I’m Following a Great Legacy: I have people who have lived before me and paved the way and passed the Baton. In following a legacy, I can either take things another step farther or stumble. I choose to take things farther, knowing that there is a great number of people who have worked tirelessly to ensure I have the best chance possible to do well.
Quitters Don’t Win: The obvious reason why I can’t quit is that I can’t win if I give up. The ultimate testament of a winner is not simply the one who comes in first, but the one who chose not to give up in the midst of those who may be faster or farther ahead of you. In the race of life, your only competition is you, not the person in the next lane. They have their own race to run. Staying in your lane and running your race is the goal.
Proverbs 24:16 says, “though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up.” Getting knocked won is a part of life. It is the test to determine the character that we possess. Do we have the character to determine to get up, or are we going to quit. God has made us fighters and given us strength and endurance to complete everything He has said we are created to complete. There is nothing He has set before us that He has not enabled us to finish. Muhammad Ali finished his fight and I plan to do the same.
QUESTION: Are you living your life with a quitter’s mind or a will to win? What gives you the will to win when things look tough?