“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13 New King James Version
I was not born a gifted athlete. I wasn’t a bad athlete just an average one. It was one of the many things which my father had a hard time reconciling when it came to trying to decipher just what kind of son he had fathered. He played in a semi-pro softball league as a pitcher and was quite good. He was a big guy, very strong, and quite proud of his ability to take a punch. On the other hand, I was neither big, strong, nor was I interested in being able to take a punch! It didn’t make for a very harmonious relationship! It did mean there was a lot of pain associated in our father/son encounters as he endeavored to toughen me up.
There was one incident that might give an insight into my dad’s psyche, into the way he viewed himself and what he valued about himself, what he wanted to instill in me, and how he wanted me to become a “chip off the old block”. One of the many places we lived while I was growing up was the Sierra Mountains. We lived there while my dad was driving logging trucks. One day as He was tying down a load of logs, his cheater bar (a length of pipe 2-3 feet long used for leverage) slipped off the handle of the binder he was using to tighten the load of logs. When the cheater bar slipped, the handle of the binder hit my dad in the chin. The impact of that should have knocked him completely out or into the next century. But even though he stumbled around like a “drunken sailor,” he never went down!
That was one of my dad’s proudest moments, if not in his life, then at least for several years. As far back as I can recall he tried to make me as tough as he was, and it didn’t take. No matter how hard he tried to toughen me up I was still just his son who wasn’t much of anything. What this provided for me was a drive to do whatever it would take to be as good as the “good athletes”. Unfortunately, all it accomplished was me placing myself in physical disaster in every sport I played. It was never a question of whether I would be hurt playing some sport, it was always a matter of when and how bad I would be hurt. This followed me into my adult years, and every softball season I was injured no less than twice minimum, often more than that.
You might be wondering when I was finally able to become mature enough to see how ridiculous that kind of thinking and behavior really was! The sorry truth is I didn’t! Instead I just became ill with chronic sinus Infections, asthma, and a nerve disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, all of which added to the demise of my athletic career! It’s been close to 20 years since I was last able to participate in any kind of competitive sport, or any sport of any kind for that matter! The reality was I couldn’t win, because in my own eyes I would never measure up no matter how hard I tried.
I remember nights of extreme pain from “throwing out” my arm every season, pulled hamstrings, broken fingers, broken hands, ankles twisted, I even semi-impaled myself on a fence post catching a fly ball. But I caught that ball! Although while I was lying there gasping for breath, the on base runners tagged up and scored. So much for catching a fly ball and then allowing 3 runs to score!
For those reading this who have been gifted with certain athletic abilities, there remains this reality, you cannot win every game you play. I just realized I had actually anticipated we could win every game we played, even though we never had a season where we did better than 50/50. We just never seemed able to break that number. It is interesting to note that in the game of baseball a 25% batting average is highly acceptable. Now consider that means 75% of “at bats” are relatively unproductive. Name any other business where an employer would accept his employees producing on a 25% production rate!
This also means there are very few super producers when it comes to baseball. Most players, amazingly gifted as they may seem to us, are average with their peers and go out on the field to do their best. However most of them will never set any records, be nominated for the Hall of Fame, or even be remembered! So what can we learn from a sport that has been named America’s Favorite Pastime? Just as in nearly every arena of life most of us are regular people trying to do our best with what we have been given. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we have we have been psyched out to believe we are the only ones lacking in abilities, skills, and talents.
We look around us thinking everyone we see is so together, their lives appear flawless, they glide along with little or no effort while you and I may find each day filled with reminders of how we have never measured up, gotten anything right. Too often we go along trying so hard to discover something about which we can hold up our heads and declare, “Here I am! I do matter, I do have something to contribute; I want to belong, please let me in!” If the words escape at all, they are most likely to be only silent screams sent up in the middle of the night, the only safe time to acknowledge this is how see ourselves.
It could be that last paragraph doesn’t describe you at all. If not, count your blessings! Thank God for parents and others who gave you a sense of worth, a knowledge of your value, because a majority of us are hiding form the truth we know will likely destroy us. We are certain we’re worth nothing, never have been, never will be, and that’s how we see ourselves. You see, we know we can’t win, and maybe that’s why, at least for me, God’s Grace carries so much Power and Hope.
The facts are simply these: we have no business trying to fight the enemy. It’s not our fight; it’s God’s! And when we jump in trying to fight the enemy, that is one of the greatest revelations of our God Complex. We simply are not capable of fighting the darkness, the principalities, the enemy. And God doesn’t expect us to fight. He tells us to stand. His instruction is not to engage the enemy, but to put on the armor and stand! That’s because the armor of God is for defensive purposes only. It is never meant to be used offensively, to take us into battle. Why? I’m glad you asked!
The battle, the war, and everything to do with the fight against the enemy is God’s and God’s alone. You and I can’t win if we endeavor to enter into the fray. All that will happen is we will be injured, maybe in ways you really do not want to discover. The enemy will use anything to destroy all of humanity that he can; it is in this way alone he can get his own back on the Creator he hates and loathes! Do you really want to go up against an adversary that will hold nothing back in an effort to obliterate you?
Recognizing you can’t win isn’t accepting defeat. It is accepting the victory God offers us through the life, the death, and the resurrected life of Jesus Christ! Jesus who by His amazing Grace chose us over His own life, even over elements of His own divinity which He sacrificed for us when He chose to become one of us! And this is the incredible truth flowing throughout the history of this very dysfunctional planet: in Jesus Christ we win every time. So I guess we really can win, what about that!
“Jahaziel said, “King Jehoshaphat, listen! All you who live in Judah and Jerusalem, listen! The Lord says to you, ‘Do not be afraid. Do not lose hope because of this huge army. The battle is not yours. It is God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 New International Reader’s Version
“The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7 Amplified Bible