Winter strengthens her grip to keep control of the weather. Spring begins to emerge with sunshine, winds, and rain. In the middle of this many find themselves in show barns and fairgrounds across America. This week is our county livestock show, where families put their hard work over a cold winter to the test against others who have done the same. Swine, sheep, goats, and cattle will have their respective shows. For those who might not know that follow this blog, each species is divided up into breed and classes. For example, my children have a Berkshire pig and Duroc pig. They will show in different breeds. Within each breed they will be divided further by either weight or birth date. For those who win their class division, they show against other class winners to see who will be breed champion. Each of the breeds represented will have a champion that compete for Grand Champion in what is called “The Champion Drive”.
Every one of us wants to get to the champion drive at each livestock show and in life. In fact, I find many similarities in what it takes to be a champion in either case.
A champion will have the right papers.
Every pig must present proper papers before entering the barn. These papers include ownership and health. If I cannot prove ownership and health the pig will not be allowed to compete. A few days after we took ownership of the pigs I called the vet and scheduled a blood test. They came back clean. I provided samples of hair if there needed to be further proof of ownership claims at the state level. People who have a belief that they can just walk into Heaven without any questions are wrong. We joke about Peter being at the “gate”. Without proof of ownership by God you will not enter Heaven. This ownership comes when we accept Jesus’ claims and work on the cross as our substitute. God owns our lives. All the nasty sin and bad spiritual genetics are handled and you are made pure. Do you have your papers?
A champion will be structurally sound.
Both of our pigs started out well and their daily weight gain was impressive. They would stride long and smooth. One day at the end of a walk, one of our pigs started to limp. For reasons yet to be determined, she went down in her hip. We nursed her and medicated her but to no avail. When we attempted to get her to the show ring she stressed out and was unable to move. Meanwhile the other went in just fine. The difference? One was not structurally sound and could not compete. If our lives are not structurally sound spiritually we will not make the champion drive either. Believing, and behaving, in any way you desire is not spiritually sound. Our lives are to be based on the moral and ethic presented in Scripture. There are rules of behavior, reaction, and speech. If our lives are based on cultural standards we will develop limps and breakdowns in our lives. When the challenges of life come, and they will, we will go down rather than rise to the level of champion.
A champion will be well fed and nurtured.
When I first got into this with the kids, I had no idea what it took. After building the pen and “house”, the kids set out the feed pails and water trough system. I went to the feed store and was overwhelmed with the choices available. You can choose from slopper to premium and everything in between. How much protein? Medicated or not? How much fat? How much…? Being the newbie, I called the source and received instruction on what, when, and how much. In addition to feeding, the kids walked the pigs, brushed the pigs, and oiled them as needed. They would clean the pens, which they hated doing! The pig is sound through genetics, but looks good because of being fed and cared for properly. Our lives are no different. We may have the right papers and bones, but the meat that makes us look good is regularly feeding on God’s word. The internet offers us so much opinion about scripture that we often make a steady diet of this. However, one cannot live on dessert alone. We must eat the good, solid protein of God’s word, worship, and fellowship with other believers.
A champion is shown by an experienced exhibitor.
Each time a pig is put in the ring, it is not alone. Standing right beside them is an exhibitor. The showman drives the pig using a “whip” on the shoulders. The showman keeps the chin up but tapping the pig on the cheek. This comes after much training. The first time the pigs were taken out for a walk they had no clue what to do. After some time, the pig learned to go with the direction of the exhibitor. The champions obey and do what they are told. The same is true in our lives, too. When we first hit the ground with God we have no clue. As we grow we learn to follow the directions we are given. At times, we try to go our own way and must be tapped harder or grabbed by the ear or snout and firmly reminded where we are to go. The sooner everyone learns to obey the smoother and happier they will be. The Holy Spirit is an excellent exhibitor if we would just learn to follow Him.
The goal at every show is to make the champion drive. The goal in every life is to feel like a champion. When we learn to ignore the distraction of culture and listen intently to the voice and guide of God we will find ourselves living out the scripture below.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.