Ronda Rousey defended her title as champion of the UFC women’s 135 lb. division this past Saturday night in memorable fashion. It took her only 14 seconds to hand Cat Zingano her first professional loss. Rousey has made a habit of easily dispatching her opponents, winning her previous fight in 16 seconds and ending seven of eleven professional victories in under a minute en route to an undefeated record.
After her latest victory, UFC President Dana White compared her to Mike Tyson, saying that she is entering that athletic echelon where there simply are not many more worthy contenders. That does not mean that she will retire or that the UFC will stop giving her fights, but it does speak to her dominance that the allusion can be made without seeming like hyperbole.
At this point, it seems like the only person who has a realistic shot of ending Rousey’s reign as a UFC champion is Rousey herself. In addition to being the best women’s MMA fighter on the planet, she has also begun a career as an actress. Her first role was in The Expendables 3 but she will also be appearing in Furious 7, the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, as well as in the Entourage. Both films are scheduled to be released this year. In addition, she will also be taking time to film another movie before defending her title again.
While recent history would suggest that such diversions from her training have not had an adverse effect on her skills as a mixed martial artist, they do increase the focus and discipline necessary to continue competing at a high level. While very few, if any, of us are likely to pursue a career in MMA, that need for focus and discipline is something to which we can all relate as they are necessary parts of fulfilling God’s calling in each of our lives.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said “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” (1 Cor. 9:23-25). In this passage, Paul is trying to get the believers in Corinth to re-evaluate the way that they were living out their faith. He was trying to get them to maintain focus and discipline so that they might live a life that God could bless and that could be used to further his kingdom here on earth.
God has a unique race for each of us to run; a role and a purpose that only you can fill. How will you live out that purpose today? Will you run with focus and discipline or will you allow yourself to be distracted by lesser things? While God’s kingdom is far bigger than any one person, never forget that it still suffers when we fail to run the race to which God has called us. At the same time, the kingdom advances in amazing ways when we faithfully carry out that calling according to God’s will. So I ask again, how will you live out that purpose today?