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I always told myself that next year would be different, but it never was. Every year I reported to two-a-day practices out of shape and overweight. My best intentions were to start training a couple weeks before the start of football season, but I never had the self-discipline to follow through.

My conditioning, or lack thereof, didn't affect me until about the second hour of the first practice. Then it got bad. "Wilson, hustle up-you're falling behind," the coach would yell. And I tried, I willed my out-of-shape body to move, but my mind was writing checks that my body couldn't cash-I was physically overdrawn.

It would go from bad to worse at the end of the practice Coach would have us line up for wind sprints. We'd run 50-yards at a time, full out, then have a second to catch our breath while the next wave of players ran. But before my heart could resume its normal pace, he'd blow the whistle again and it would be my group's turn to run. On the hard days, we'd run a mile or two of wind sprints, then finally, Coach would say, run a lap around the track and go in.

Inside, I'd sit in my locker, exhausted, knowing that I could go home and sleep for 5 or 6 hours before I had to come back and do it all again. The week between Christmas and New Years reminds me of that moment of calm after strenuous activity. It is a time when I recover from the ceaseless activity of the Christmas season and evaluate the past year. It is a time to muster up new resolve for the year ahead. It is a time to cease activity and get some rest. And in the quiet, I feel my heartbeat, take a deep breath and evaluate what is really important to me. It is a moment when real character emerges, where pain is buttressed by determination and thoughts of quitting are replaced with a stronger desire to pursue the dream.

"Go home. Get some rest. Practice starts at 6:00" Coach would say, "See you then." Of course, I always put it just a little different, "Get out of here and go change the world."

See you next year.

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365 Days includes Volumes 1-4
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Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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