MY BOXING CAREER WAS OVER AT AGE NINE
Of course, his name was Butch.
Between the ages of seven and nine I lived in Tucson, Arizona with my parents. I had cousins that lived about eighty miles to the south of Tucson in a military town called Sierra Vista. It was just a few miles north of the Mexican border. Our families would get together rather often in Sierra Vista, because my aunt worked on the military base there and was on call a lot.
My cousins, Bob and John, whom I affectionately called Bobby and Johnny, were older than me: Bobby by three years and Johnny by four. Our relationship always seemed to be about rough-housing. When we got together, they would push me, and I’d slug them. They would get me in a headlock, and I’d tackle them; and we would always seem to get into wrestling matches with each other. But it was all fun and games. They were older than me and when we wrestled, they did so playfully while leading me to believe I was overpowering them.
One day in my presence Bobby said to his older brother, “Let’s put the gloves on Chris. I’ll bet he could pack a good punch.” So they did. They put some boxing gloves on me and let me punch them for a while, after which Bobby said, “I’ll bet he could take Butch.”
Butch was a neighbor of theirs who was a year older than me and whom all the kids in their neighborhood thought was a bully and a brat. My cousins had a vendetta against him for something, though I was unaware of it at the time. They couldn’t stand him. But they couldn’t beat him up either. It wouldn’t be right. They were two and three years older than him. Bobby and Johnny were hopeful that I would be the one that would administer their revenge on their neighborhood brat.
So after I sparred with them for a few minutes they asked me, “How would you like to have a little boxing match with our neighbor Butch? We’re sure you could take him.”
I said, “Sure.” I was always up for a little adolescent sparring.
They said, “Alright, the next time you come we will have it set up.”
Of course, no parents could know. They would veto the idea in a heartbeat. So we all agreed to keep it hush-hush.
A few weeks later we went to visit my cousins again. I had almost forgotten about the prize fight they were concocting. But when I arrived they pulled me aside and gave me the news. They had talked to Butch and he was looking forward to it. However, the shock of finding out that I was going to be in a fight later that afternoon started to make me a little apprehensive.
“Don’t worry,” said Bobby. “We will give you a boxing lesson.” So he and Johnny took me out behind the garage and put a pair of gloves on me. They taught me how to dodge punches, protect my head, lead and jab with my left and punch with my right.
Since I was equipped with this expert training advice, Butch was contacted and a time was set for the fight for later that afternoon.
When I saw Butch I was encouraged. He didn’t look ominous. He was a little taller than me, but didn’t appear out of my weight class. We laced up our gloves and situated ourselves for the first round.
Bobby made a “ding” sound and the fight was underway. Butch and I circled each other two or three times. Butch took a few jabs and so did I. All at once a blow hit me on the side of the head. I thought, “Where did that come from? Is someone else in this fight?” Then I realized it was a right cross from my opponent…and then I wasn’t realizing anything at all because my head was spinning. And just like that the fight was over. I’m not sure it even reached the ten-count—ten seconds into the fight that is.
My cousins, realizing I was a goner; stepped in and stopped the match. And just like that, my boxing days were over; leaving me a has-been at age nine. My cousin’s dream of teaching their neighbor a lesson was dashed.
There are many battles that we fight in life that are not our battles to fight. And we fight them every day.
We fight our egos.
We fight shame.
We fight low self-esteem.
We fight fear.
We fight the feeling of being unacceptable.
We fight the battle for significance.
We fight pride, and anger, and hatred, and worry, and stress, and purposelessness.
But they aren’t our battles to fight.
The degree to which we are able to allow Jesus to fight these battles of life for us, is the degree to which we will be at peace in our hearts and lives. And consequently, the degree to which we try to tackle them ourselves is the degree to which we will leave our lives and heads spinning.
The real fight is with our own selves. We fight the battle of relinquishment our whole lives. We want to maintain control, but Jesus wants us to relinquish it to Him. Peter declares, “Cast all your cares on Him for he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). And David said to his foe, “For the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands” (I Samuel 17:47).
What battles are you fighting that are really the Lord’s battles to fight?
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