Getting Hit and Knocked Down
Several years ago there was a world class sprinter, hurdler and all-around athlete. Along with his speed and athletic ability, he was surprisingly strong for his size. The NFL couldn’t help but speculate as to the possibility of how all of this ability might translate into being an outstanding football player. He hadn’t played college football, but a pro team decided to give him a tryout. During the tryout, it was evident that not only was he fast, but he was also gifted at catching a football. A lot of people thought that the team that gave him a tryout had hit the jackpot.
In the midst of all of the excitement and speculation, I can still remember an interview with another NFL player who was asked to give his opinion on whether this former sprinter would be a good receiver. The player being interviewed did his best to explain that there is more to being a good receiver than speed, strength and skill. What a lot people don’t realize, is that a receiver may be fast, strong, and have a great ability to catch a football, however, when the ball is being passed to a receiver in a game, the receiver must focus all of his attention on the football. He can’t watch the defenders who are salivating as they wait for the exact moment for the receiver to touch the ball so they can lay him out with a nuclear blow. Once a receiver has gone through the experience of sacrificing his body in order to make the catch and gets annihilated by a defender, the next time he is catching a pass, it’s as though a megaphone is amplifying the defender’s footsteps that are coming his way. The memory of what happened the last time he heard those footsteps flashes through his mind and the flashback is not a nice memory. Defenders know this and they want to create those memories in the receivers that they cover. They want these memories to traumatize a receiver to the point where all they can think of when a pass is coming their way, is the anticipation of an atomic hit. If a defender can get a receiver distracted with this when a pass is coming, a receiver who is otherwise great at catching a football, suddenly can’t catch. In essence, the enemy player has succeeded at totally dismantling the talent of even the most gifted opponent.
Overcoming Fear of Past Trauma
Do you hear footsteps coming? Is there something that God wants you to do but the last time you put your gift to work it seemed the enemy laid you out and you experienced trauma? When a football player gets hit, he can either lay there and think about how much it hurts, or he can jump up and get ready for the next play. Some players are crazy enough to love physical contact; even when it hurts. That’s one of the things that makes a good player a good player. Do you want to be a good player in relationship to your faith? You have to be able to get up and play again when you’ve been knocked down. Can we as Christians be like the best football players who actually enjoy the contact? Can we as Christians do what Jesus told us to do when we get hit with persecution, when he said in Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Can we do as James told us to do when he said, “Rejoice my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds. For you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
In our desire to win people to Christ, we often try to take the conflict out of the battle that Jesus told us is unavoidable. In a day and age where the media wants to make Christians look bad, the church can easily get preoccupied with wanting to offset this problem by looking good in order to win our society over. This mentality can get out of balance and soften us up and cause us think we are failing when there is conflict and disapproval. Don’t get me wrong, looking good to our society because of our love and positive character doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and it’s a nice thing whenever it works out that way. There were times when Jesus had the approval of the crowd. But Jesus warns us we won’t always look good to others.
There will be conflict and persecution for standing up for our faith. Are we being conditioned to find joy in the midst of this, or is there shame and failure because we couldn’t win the world to Jesus though our popularity? A football player who gets hit and gets right back up will be welcomed back to the huddle, eager for the next play. When a fellow Christian engages in battle and gets hit with persecution, do we welcome him or her back to the huddle, or are we afraid to associate with him or her because they don’t have a good reputation in the world’s eyes?
With God’s Help You Can Get Up!
There are gifted preachers, teachers, worship leaders, evangelists, prophets, apostles, encouragers, givers, leaders, servers, parents, husbands, wives, workers and marketplace ministers who have been hit. The hit may have taken the form of persecutions, rejection, lies, deceptions, a violation of trust, or failure to see fruit in spite of their best effort. If we are not properly conditioned, we will let these hits get to us and traumatize us. The next thing you know, the limitless gifts that God has placed within each of us has been dismantled. The trauma factor ends up nullifying the power of heaven that God wants to release through us. But don’t forget, God knows all about it, and Jesus knows what you’re going through. He was hit. He was hit so hard he should have never got up again. But he rose. The Father was on his side and he’s on your side if you’re serving him. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and he will quicken your mortal body (Romans 8:11). Don’t let the devil, the world, yourself or other Christians hold you down. Praise God, get up! When you’ve been hit it’s good. It means you’re in the game. The guys on the bench never get hit, so get in the game and don’t be afraid of getting hit. Even if you go down, you have resurrection power, and God will help you get up.