Family Matters— The Bible and Wrestling
It’s always early in the school year when the memories of junior high wrestling flood back to me. I was the littlest guy in the class, not very athletic—NOT a good thing in PE wrestling class. Actually, I was the second littlest—I remember praying through every weigh-in that there would be at least ONE guy smaller than me—and there was, but only by a pound.
He, however, was the wiry athlete.
I knew him well enough to know he had been trying to prove himself for years in a rough neighborhood, so even though I beat him by a pound, my heart still sank. Sure enough, the first time we got on the mat together, he humiliated me, hoisting me over his shoulders and spinning me all around in an act worthy of a WWE Smackdown match.
That single experience is forever seared in my memory. Decades later, it’s something to laugh about, but certainly not at the time. My young soul facing the dark years of humiliation ahead, through middle school and high school! I was part of the church youth group at the time, but what hadn’t really clicked yet was the part about “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Had I been able to trust God in understanding who I was at the time, perhaps I could have used that experience as an opportunity to connect with some guys I wouldn’t otherwise have had anything in common with. After all, another good scripture that works great in a Kid Survival Kit reminds those of us fitting the Wimpy Kid syndrome: “I take pleasure in my weaknesses… for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12: 10)
Another of my most memorable experiences was much more recently, at a funeral for a young Soldier killed in action, doing the service in a packed high school surrounded by those who knew him best. One story at the service was of when he took his own money and bought a pair of those expensive basketball shoes—not for himself– but for a friend who couldn’t afford it, powerfully living out in a high school way, Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.
I remember that wrestling incident as one of the worst experiences of my school career. How different it could have turned out both then and now, had I used those Bible Survival Tools to turn that experience into a relationship catalyst? Turns out this stuff in the Bible isn’t just good for Sundays, but when it gets into our hearts, can provide powerful survival tools to help kids bless others, and for the rough times in the school yard (or the office or shop…) as well.
Helping all generations learn and live the scriptures—Rev. Jim