In life you will encounter what I call the Four C’s. All of them are facts of life and when dealt with maturely, you will glide by them with no hassle. When reacted to with immaturity or out of despair, dysfunction, or distracted, deceived, distraught, they will put a serious kink in your style. Planning is the key. Spiritually mature understanding of biblical truths is necessary to make decisions vital to overcoming the obstacles in this world. To help illustrate encountering the Four C’s, I will utilize my experience in a recent competition. The Highland Mud Run in Columbus Georgia was a 5k race with obstacles. I experienced some obstacles of my own creation as I ran the race. Join me along the course as I share my encounters with you. Before we start out, keep in mind that this story is true and also an allegory to life. The race is analogous to the normal progression through life. The obstacles likewise correspond to the normal experiences of life. At the start of the race, the race moderators acknowledge that all the runners run the same length of course and encounter the same obstacles. In life, Jesus promises that no human experiences anything that He himself did not experience. Our Savior further teaches us that there exists no experience that God will not guide us through. Let’s examine the four C’s.
Confrontation: This is an encounter; a face-to-face meeting, especially a challenging or hostile one. Most of us give this concept a negative connotation. I encourage you to view this as not good or bad. Confrontation is a normal part of existence. As God has created us all with uniqueness and individuality, we will undoubtedly experience dissent between ideas, beliefs, opinions, or between the people who hold them.
Conflict: This is a competitive action of incompatible ideas; a mental struggle resulting from opposing demands. Notice this is action whereas confrontation is a noun. Be aware that the existence of conflict is not necessary if you maintain your focus, goal, choices. As you will see later in this story even though confrontations arise, conflict can be avoided.
Confusion: This is another noun, a lack of understanding; uncertainty. The state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind. This is a bad thing. The word of God clearly states, ‘Satan is the author of confusion”. Confusion can be avoided. How do you avoid confusion? Ask advice, counsel, seek direction, clarification. When it comes time to make a decision, go into the decision-making process with some pre-meditated choices.
Confoundedness: (To mingle or mix-up, so that different parts cannot be distinguished, t o mistake for another, to identify falsely.) This is a state arrived at if confusion is not handily dealt with. To remain confused leads to being confounded or lost to the point of feeling doomed. Obviously this is bad, and yet many people live in this state. I pray you will avoid this phase. You need not be confounded if you will make decisions based on truth not facts. Stay focused. Receive encouragement and take action.
Now that we have identified the Four C’s, let’s run this race and see where we can make adjustments to avoid the avoidable and win the race.
The runners gather together at the start area, some stand and chat while others warm-up the muscles required to run the race. This action is parallel to the gathering of facts, and truths discussed above. In the middle of the race, we need to make some decisions (we will need to have a foundation from which to thrust ourselves forward into the fray). The race begins and the first obstacle we meet is relatively lightweight. We run through a muddy area in the wide road. All of the runners are confronted by the same obstacle. Knowing that this is a mud run we expect this and carry-on. Next we run through a muddier area in the narrowing road as the onlookers sling muddy water on us. We continue to run a good half mile up a gradual slope. The pack spreads out over the course as the stronger pull ahead and the less confident lag behind. The next confrontation is an obstacle where we pick up and carry a 4 foot log section a distance of one quarter mile.
Next, we slide down a steep hill on a water slide (plastic sheet with water running over it) and land in a pond. The water is chilly and murky. We slog through the muddy bottom a distance of 25 yards to the other side.
We exit the pond and run a distance of 100 feet, balance on a log and walk 25 feet on the log across the pond, run 100 yards up a steep hill, climb up a hill through a 4 foot diameter culvert (soap is covering the entire bottom of the culvert). At this time I notice I have caught up with runners from the previous heat. I hear them complain, condemn themselves and argue about the fairness of the trials we are experiencing. I know the mind is a powerful tool in the arsenal at our disposal. If we capture our thoughts and distinguish truth from fact or even fiction, we can have strength to carry on. So here is where I first recognize the existence of conflict. These complainers have lost their motivation. They are focusing on the lie that ‘they cannot complete this task’. Had they fortified themselves with decisions made at the beginning of the race, they would be empowered to focus, think, respond to the task and not react. They would grasp that the soap is only on the bottom of the culvert. They could use some physical ingenuity and walk along the walls of the culvert. In this configuration, the abrasive surface offered by the walls would afford them the friction necessary to complete the task. Although I did sustain a cut to my forehead, I move on. Next, we run a distance of 150 yards, climb over and under tables surrounded with barbed-wire, maneuver through a series of four 4-foot wall hurdles, run a distance of 300 yards, negotiate two sections of tires (high knees), and run a distance of 400 yards. As I approached the end of this last long run, I notice many folks slowing down, then stopping, then standing. As I see this action from a distance, I am thinking, ‘this is a race, they should not be stopping’. Aware that we have many more obstacles to go, I do not want to stop. I comprehend they do not know the direction to go. As I arrive at their location, I recognize the course is not well marked at this juncture. However, with one loud shout of, ‘which direction do we go?’ I receive several pointing hands and shouts from the race directors. No need to stand around or even slow down. Do you see how this mere confrontation quickly spiraled out of control for some folks? They were tired and defeated. They lost focus, and desire. They replaced their long term goals with short sighted feelings. Their conflict gave way to confusion. A little guidance avoids the confusion. The guidance was received at the invitation to help. My call for help came after pride was set aside. The pride was set aside because it was not a priority established at the start of the race. Do you see why it is important to take time and make decisions based on truth? Foundations (belief systems backed with actionable truths) are vital to the successful performance in life. Next, we climb a rope into a dump truck bed (the bed is full of mud). Oh, this is deep and slimy. We climb a ladder out of dump truck. I ripped my pant leg climbing out of the truck and run a distance of 600 yards. We run downhill, navigate through a mud pit. A net is over the pit which forces our body into the mud. The mud is sour with stagnant water. The air is putrid. The end of the net is tied close to the ground so in order to exit this obstacle we need to be totally immersed in the mud. Now I am tired, bleeding, clothes ripped, smelly and confronted with doubts of finishing. Not conflicted however, once out, we run a distance of 150 yards, run downhill, climb up a steep hill, run a distance of 600 yards, climb a hay bale pyramid, run a short distance, leap over a log, run a short distance, climb a 15 foot ladder fence, run a distance of 100 yards, slide down a 25 foot hill flowing with mud, land in a mud pool, swim a distance of 25 yards, climb out of the mud pool.
Okay at this point I am smoked. My lungs hurt, my back aches, my thighs burn, my body refuses to maintain momentum. I am running a long distance now (900 yards). It is tangible work just to get my legs to function properly. I experience what the biblical author spoke,
‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’
I am alone at this part of the race. There is not a single soul around. I have been left behind by many racers before me. I have left many of the racers from my heat behind. I have passed folks from the heat before mine. If left to my natural tendencies I would be in a state of confoundedness.
There exists right now an inability to distinguish the many parts of the race. Which direction is forward? Which muscles are required to run vice walk? Do I focus on arm swing or lifting the thighs higher? The body is just exhausted.
The words of the scripture are truth. ‘The spirit is willing’. So let’s allow the spirit to take over. I pray you understand how important pre-conceived choices are. When you know truth and understand that facts are different from truth, then you can make choice based on truth. This situation calls for praises God. I take my mind off of the facts, the circumstances and the situation. I invest in my spirit man. The word of God teaches us that Christ gives us strength and that strength comes through our praise of God. I need supernatural strength. I do receive strength and focus. The next obstacle is to negotiate a series of four ramps with 15 yards between each of them, run another long distance (600 yards), crawl through a 25 foot mud pit with barbed wire over top, run a distance of 100 feet, crawl through a 35 foot mud pit, run a distance of 25 yards to the finish line.
Praise the Lord. I am through. I am slimy, exhausted, and heavy with mud and drenched with sweat and little bit of blood. This my friends is how I want to enter heaven. Just like Jesus did; after descending to hell itself in search of brothers and sisters who have been lied to and beaten unjustly, freeing them from bondage and slaying some demons in the process. Sure I will have scars, my guardian angels with loose wings and bend their swords. We’ll dent our shields and have splattered demons guts on us. But the grace, mercy, strength and blood of Jesus will course through my veins and in this is the way I want to appear at the pearly gates.
There is a rinse station ahead. Much like the angels ministering to Jesus after His 40 day fast in the wilderness, I relish the rinse station and soak in the fresh water. I pull mud from my pockets, mud wedged behind my belt, grab mud off of my boot laces. I get lighter with ever wave of water.
The race is over. The obstacles conquered. I can share with you that the race was won not by strength but by God’s spirit. He allowed me to focus on Him and the truths He equipped me with. Confrontation is all around us in the fallen world. We need proper preparation. We need God’s truth to replace this world’s fact. We need reliance on God , His word, His relationship and His people. We need a close hold on righteous goals, choices, and foundation. You can avoid conflict, confusion, and confoundedness and win the race.
Join me next time as we delve into the armament of the Four F’s. (Faith, Focus, Fortitude, and Facilitate)
*Lessons learned from this MUD RUN for use to rate better for the next run.
- Wear boggin or head band to keep ears from getting caught in net.
- Do the net on back in order to raise the net up. Dig into the mud with heels to move forward.
- Button all buttons and cover them so they do not get caught in apparatus
- Prep months before so that lung capacity for breathing is a good volume
- Run down the mud slide and jump into mud hole
- Figure out how to cover belt so that mud is not forced into the pants as you crawl through it.