One of the most intense, win at all costs, athletes that ever bounced a basketball is Michael Jordan. Six NBA championships, six finals MVP's and ten scoring titles-enough said! There are many stories and examples of his willingness to do anything to gain an edge on his opponents. My favorite story of this is when the Chicago Bulls were in Atlanta one night to play the Atlanta Hawks. An hour or so before the game, Jordan went into the Hawks locker room and walked up to Dominique Wilkens, the Hawks best player. He looked at him in the eyes and said, "Lace em' up, it's gonna be a long night."
Why would he do such a brazen thing like walking into the opponents locker room an hour before tip-off. Basically, he was putting them on notice, letting them know they better bring their "A" game, and that they were in for a very tough night.
Anyone who has spent time running up and down a hardwood basketball floor knows the importance of having a good pair of sneakers. The better the sneaker, the less likely it is to ware out and the more spring to your step you'll have.
So you might be asking yourself, what does this Michael Jordan story have to do with me? Well, if you are like me and are interested in living a life that reflects the image of Christ, it has everything to do with you.
Those three words, "Lace em' up," remind me of an old African proverb. Maybe this quote will paint a more vivid picture of the portrait I am painting in this blog. Every day in Africa the fastest lion says to himself, "If I don't out run the slowest gazelle I will not eat today." Every day in Africa the slowest gazelle says to himself, "If I don't out run the fastest lion I will be eaten today." So at the end of the day it doesn't matter whether you're the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up you better start running.
Sin is a subject most of us have learned to skate around. With years of practice we have put on our best skates and have become good at gliding around the subject of sin. We dodge it, ignore it, make excuses for it, deflect it on others and succumb to it. But how many of us are committed to rolling up our sleeves, lacing up our sneakers and running like hell in the other direction?
The Bible has a lot to say about walking. There are countless scriptures on walking through life and walking with God.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7
"What does God require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
"Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God." Genesis 6:9.
These are just a few of the many encouragements in Scripture to pace our lives through walking with God. There are very few times that scripture tells us to run. The theme of running is reserved mainly for one topic in the Bible. When writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul puts his young protege on notice when he writes, "Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace." 2 Timothy 2:22 NLT. Maybe Paul would say to some of us, including yours truly, its time to take off your skates and put on your best pair of sneakers, lace em' up and run in the opposite direction of anything and everything that will give birth to sin in your life.
With intentionality, voraciousness, and the will to conquer of a Michael Jordan, we better start realizing that sin is an opponent that wants to demolish and annihilate us. And we better be willing to lace em' up and start running, not only from sin but to something else.
Paul didn't merely encourage Timothy to run from his youthful lusts but he followed that up with a plea to run hard in the direction of right living, faithfulness, love and peace. King Solomon put it this way, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10 ESV. This concept and the language that both Paul and Solomon use of running hard and fast from sin and running towards righteousness and into the arms of God, is no passive plea. It is not a suggestion or a recommendation. It is an all out blitz, a plea to get in the starting blocks and start sprinting.
Sprinting away from something that wishes to eat us for lunch and towards something, or better yet, someone who has prepared a table for us in the presence of our enemies. (Psalm 23). We all are in this tug of war together, with both sides pulling on the rope in hopes of dragging us over to their side.
Sometimes temptation and sin feel irresistible, like our souls are stuck waging war against the powers of hell. If from time to time you too feel like this, remember the words of Winston Churchill. "If your going through hell.....keep going! Oh, and by the way, Jordan went for 60 that night!