If you have ever been to a gym or have seen videos of a boxer training for a fight, you have probably seen someone shadow boxing. For those of you who don’t know, shadow boxing is when a boxer is by him or herself and throws punches and combinations at the air.
Paul uses this analogy of shadow boxing when writing to the Corinthians about how they should approach life. This is what he tells them:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NIV)
The difference between shadow boxing and the actual fight is that, while you’re in the fight, you will hit and get hit. You will land some punches and not land punches. You will dodge the other person’s punches and get hit by their punches. Paul is reminding the church in Corinth that they are not shadow boxing anymore. That they are in a fight. He wants them to know that life has meaning. That they are not just throwing punches without purpose but that there is something worth fighting for. That sometimes in life what you attempt will work and sometimes you will swing and miss. That sometimes you might get hit by something, maybe even unexpected, and sometimes you might barely miss getting hit by something the enemy throws at you.
I know what it feels like to be shadow boxing through life. I’ve been there. Where it looks like I’m just throwing punches, aimlessly, not hitting anything. Where everything I’ve tried doesn’t seem to be working. I’ve also been in a place where I got hit by something out of nowhere. Where I wasn’t even expecting it and didn’t even see it coming.
If you are reading this and you feel like you are shadow boxing through your life. Where you’re trying things and nothing seems to be working. I want you to know that there is hope for you. John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we could have abundant life. Meaning that because of Jesus, we can get into the ring. Because of Jesus, we have purpose in life. Because of Jesus, there is meaning for what we do. Because of Jesus, there is something worth fighting for.
Quit your shadow boxing, step into the ring, and start fighting with meaning and with purpose because there is a reward worth fighting for.