It’s October 2, 1980. In Las Vegas, Nevada, the home of some of the greatest bouts of all time, Muhammad Ali stepped into the ring to fight…again. This fight was against Larry Holmes and was known by many as the fight that never should have happened.
Many had the memories of the legs that would dance around his opponent. Many people had remembered the talk that would always lead to brilliant and memorable victories that would elevate this boxing champ to be known as the greatest. But sadly on this night, the legs were gone and the capability could no longer go to the defense of the infamous Louisville Lip.
He was old and he knew it. Everyone knew it. Holmes knew he wasn’t fighting the real Ali anymore. Ali knew that his day had come and passed. And at this point in his career, the glory days were over and had become a memory.
We mustn’t bring this up and forget as well what happens when we see someone past their prime, such as the Washington Wizards stint for Michael Jordan. Jordan had left the stage at the top of the game. Winning a final 3 rings to match his previous 3, Jordan was going to go down as possibly the greatest basketball player to play the game.
In September 2001, Jordan announced his plan to return to the NBA and play for the struggling Washington Wizards. He played for Washington for 2 years. His body was not what it used to be. Though he still got a good amount of playing time and scored a good amount when healthy, he was a long way off from the “I want to be like Mike” that we all remembered.
Athletes go through a time in their careers where they must come to terms with the end of the glory days(if you don’t believe me visit any church basketball or softball league). But every good athlete is a competitor. And most athletes always thinks that there is something left in the tank. I found this interesting blog of a guy who wants to dunk a basketball while in his 30’s(http://onemansquesttodunk.blogspot.com/2009/12/athletes-prime-december-24-interlude.html). Throughout his blog he discusses the prime of an athlete and when athletes have reached their peaks.
In usual fashion, I see this in the business of kingdom work for the glory of God. But here is what’s beautiful about serving God, when one has served God for 40 years he is just getting started. Because our body’s are temporary vessels, we are not dependent on them to be our source of hope, strength and or the tool that God is using. Though we must take good care of our body’s, they are usable by God if they are either barely mobile or extremely athletic.
My professor explained this idea to me in my preaching class when he said that our first 40 years of ministry make way for the following 40. Though I know that one may object saying that it doesn’t make sense based on Gods will for an individual or the lifespan of a person but I think the point is pretty awesome. God can use you for your whole life. Your prime isn’t contingent on your body.
I praise God for what he has for me in my 20’s, but I become even more excited when considering what he has in my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and whatsoever God wills. So be encouraged because when it come to serving God, age literally is just a number.