Tomorrow, July 22, 2017, I’ll be competing in my first Judo tournament as I enter the “Male, 17&Over, Novice” division at the Cornhusker state games. It’s been quite a while since I competed in BJJ. My last competition was August of 2015, so essentially it’s been 2 years.
As I do most mornings, I will spend time reading my Bible. As I do almost every tournament morning, tomorrow will be Romans 8. It has a few of my favorite verses. One that I gravitate towards is 8:31-34
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn?
That combined with the first verse of the chapter:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
are tremendous helps to me. Neither of them are talking about Judo or competing or anything like that. They’re much weightier subjects that they’re tackling (one’s eternal relationship with God, and how secure that is.) So why do I gravitate to these verses?
Competing Scares Me
I know all the right things to say, that I’m hoping for experience tomorrow, or that “you either win or you learn” and I do honestly believe those things. At the same time, it’s scary. I’m not scared about what my teammates will say, or will the spectators watching think I suck. I’m scared because tomorrow I’m going to line up across from someone who’s sole job is to throw me in such a way that, if there were not a mat, I would not be getting up. Or if they can’t throw me, their goal will be to choke me to the point I either pass out or tap out. And that scares me.
I get it, it’s a game, we’re not really fighting, this isn’t MMA or the streets. At the end of the match, we will shake hands, we might even become friends on Facebook. But for those 3 minutes that the match is going on, we’re trying to inflict enough damage to someone that they must tap to avoid getting seriously hurt.
And honestly, its not even the 3 minutes. It’s the time leading up to that. The drive out that I have to think about this event.
Competing scares me, and when things scare me, I remind myself “It is God who justifies, who is to condemn?”
I Can Be Honest With My Performance
Because of Roman’s 8, I know where I stand with God. He is, and must be, my ultimate treasure, my ultimate goal. This allows me to compete, in some ways, without fear.
If I go out tomorrow and try my absolute best and lose what does that say about me? It likely says that I’m not great at Judo, I might not even be very good at it. At the very least it says that there are other people who are better at Judo than me, who worked harder, and were more prepared.
If I don’t have the security of knowing that doesn’t fundamentally change who I am, that regardless of the outcome tomorrow, I will still be chosen by God, then I can compete harder. Because my best might not be good enough, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. I’m focused on something larger.
If Judo was all I had, and I was worried that someone might beat me, I might try to find an excuse:
He used an illegal grip
He weighed a lot more than me
He had a cheering section
The referee didn’t give me my points
And the list goes on and on. Because I would have to rationalize why I lost, in order to convince myself to keep training.
But being as I stand uncondemned by God through the blood of Jesus Christ, I know I can go compete as hard as I can and if I lose, I’m still uncondemned by God.