In Creed, the 2015 spin-off of the Rocky movie series, Rocky Balboa, the former champ, trains his longtime friend and rival’s son, Adonis Creed. With Adonis’ father passing away years earlier, he looks to Rocky for both boxing advice and fatherly wisdom. In preparation for a big fight, noticing that Adonis tends to lose focus easily, Rocky repeats to him in training, “One step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time…” Certainly, this is good advice from a seasoned boxer, but it also mirrors what Jesus says in the Bible.
In John 16:12, after explaining to the disciples that his leaving will result in the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus states, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Why doesn’t Jesus practice full disclosure here and tell the disciples everything? With the horrific crucifixion about to happen just hours later, apparently Jesus knew the disciples couldn’t process or understand certain knowledge at that moment. Jesus is a bit like Rocky here, helping the disciples focus on what’s in front of them.
Again in Luke 24, after Jesus’ death, two men are walking along a road when Jesus comes along – but they have no idea it’s Jesus. In verse 16 it says, “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” These men learned Scripture directly from Jesus and even ate with him before they ever knew it was Jesus! Ephesians 1:18 tells us that God, through the Spirit, opens our eyes and hearts. What’s the deal with that? Why does God keep things from us sometimes? Why does God frequently tell us, “One step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time” and not tell us about the whole fight?
Jesus so famously says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Without question, this verse is a major statement on not worrying, but it’s more. Jesus gives us permission to seize the day and to be a good steward of what our eyes and hearts can see. The passage preceding verse 34 describes the ways in which God perfectly cares and loves us; perfect love casts out all fear. (1 John 4:18) This perfect love gives us confidence to step toward what’s in front of us, punch what’s in our way, and fight hard in the present round.
There’s nothing worse than a fighter who dwells on how tired he’ll be at the end of the fight when he’s still in Round 1. Likewise, it’s counterproductive when we spend all our energy on challenges that aren’t in our way yet but neglect the chances right in front of us. No, maybe God hasn’t given you vision of the next round or even the next step or punch, but consider what He has put in your “today” and go after it with godly zeal!