By Jared Siglin .
It is often said of truly elite athletes that while they demonstrate high levels of skill in their sport, they may be known more for tremendous heart. The statement in a lot of cases has become described as the “intangibles” or inner fortitude to dismiss, move on, and even improve after some kind of adversity without accepting defeat or even considering defeat an option. This will often manifest in strong belief, confidence, desire, and will. So strong are these characteristics that when adversity hits, these athletes are able to see past it and continue toward their goal determined and undeterred. They do not lose heart and accept defeat.
Over the course of an NHL season, heart is rarely valued more than during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In many cases, it is the team less skilled but with more heart, who wants it more, that finds itself on the winning end. During the 2014 playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings found themselves some adversity, down 3-0 in a series to the San Jose Sharks; an unenviable position and historically near impossible hole to climb out of. Exhibiting a team wide determination to not lose heart, the Kings fought back in the series to force a Game 7 to be played in San Jose. The series became more than a battle between two hockey teams. It became a battle between skill and heart.
Before the final game of the series began, the Los Angeles Times newspaper ran a preview article in which it stated, “The Sharks have long had enormous talent but lacked heart when it mattered. The Kings in recent years have had more heart than pure skill, and they've blended that determination with superb goaltending and staunch team defense to create a winning formula.” The Kings went on to win the game and the Stanley Cup a few weeks later. As demonstrated by the Kings in that improbable comeback as well as many other athletes before and after, heart is one of the most important and powerful characteristics to be cultivated and losing heart of vital importance to fight against.
Just as in any hockey game, adversity in life can and will come at you from all sides. It often will feel like you are down 3-0 with little hope of fighting back and overcoming. It is at those times where we have a choice: To give up, lose heart, and admit defeat or else never back down and persevere unto victory. Your Father knows how important your heart is as well as how dangerous it is to lose it.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
He tells us that everything we do flows from it. That the heart is the wellspring of our life. Our desires, our deep seated beliefs, and our determinations spring from our heart. For this reason, He exhorts us to guard it. We must protect our heart at all costs and by all means not lose it. The enemy, Satan, will attack your heart. He also knows how important your heart is and he knows how dangerous you are to him when living from the heart and determined to not lose it. He will seek to get you to back down. We must resist. We must battle for our hearts. So how do we guard our hearts? How do we resist the enemy’s attacks? How do we battle so as to not lose heart?
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…And pray in the Spirit on all occasions…”
(Ephesians 6:11, 18)
First we begin each day equipping for battle. Like gearing up pads for a game, we equip the truths spoken to us by our Father and revealed in His Word. We pray, asking for the courage and strength to battle whatever we will face that day. To face the lies of the enemy and resist him while standing firm in our faith.
“…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Next we fix our eyes on Jesus. We give ourselves fully to Him asking for His life to flow in and through us. We can face opposition like He did without losing heart through the power of the Spirit of Jesus living inside of us.
Resisting the enemy and guarding your heart takes practice. Like most everything we do in life, it takes work to achieve greatness. No hockey player has ever strapped the pads on for the first time and become the best on the ice. But as we train, it is then we find the strength to resist. We find that the enemy will flee. We find victory in determination and an unyielding drive to never lose heart in the face of adversity.
- When on the ice did you face adversity so strong it seemed giving up and losing heart was inevitable? How did you respond?
- What truths, whether experiences of victory in your life, words from the Father, or verses of Scripture can you remember and cling to in the face of adversity in order to guard your heart and keep moving forward?
- What characteristics of Jesus’ life do you think were so critical to Him enduring opposition? Ask Him for those character traits to be made real in your life.
Philippians 3:13-14, I Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 6:10-18, Hebrews 12:1-3
Posted on Wed, June 22, 2016
by Jared Siglin