Do You Have the Balls?
Dodgeball... It may be the one word that still to this day has the ability to strike fear in the hearts of every gangly pre-teen in America. A game that seems so simplistic in its design; yet, for most of us feels like we’re David walking into an arena about ready to face Goliath. While the game has its rules and code of conduct, let’s be honest; dodgeball is nothing more than a politically correct way for Butch-the-Ginormo sixth-grader to beam balls off the head of every poor and defenseless prepubescent pencil-necked geek.
While there are varying ways to play the game, the basic rules are as follows. Teams of 6 or more players line up on opposite sides of the playing court. 6-8 dodgeballs are then lined up on the center of the court. At the blow of a whistle, both teams rush to the center court line and attempt to retrieve as many balls as possible. Once the teams have the balls, the object is to eliminate the other players until one team has only one person standing on the court; thus deemed the winner! To do this, each team tries to eliminate the opposing team by three different methods. First, and the most widely used method, is to throw the ball in an attempt to hit the opposing player directly with brutal force. Second, if a defending player manages to catch a live ball that has been thrown at them by an opposing player, the opposing player will be deemed “out.” Lastly, if any part of a player's body crosses over the centerline or the neutral zone lines, that player shall be deemed “out” as well.
After years of ducking, dodging, and diving, I can tell you from first hand experience that the key to winning a dodgeball match is not found in a great offense. On the contrary, the key to being the last person standing on the court at the end of the game is found when a person learns to use a smart defense. Great dodgeball veterans will tell you, when they see a rush of players coming at them, they have to do the very thing they don't want to do; and that is to move toward the rush. As someone who has woken up with “toiV” across his forehead a few times (that’s Voit spelled backwards, the maker of dodeballs by the way); I can tell you that your first instinct is to run toward the back of the court. But doing so just makes it easier for you to unintentionally go out of bounds while trying to jump out of the way of a 90-MPH red rubber ball. Instead, you need to advance toward the rush of the players and try to catch one of their thrown balls as they hurl it toward you.
But be careful, if you are charging foreword and the rush begins to overtake you, the worst thing to do now is retreat backwards, which I have done. Once you take your eyes of you opponent, you become disoriented and open yourself up for a barrage of cheap shots and public pelting; and more than one person has suffered the wrath of Butch (the freakishly grown six-grader) because they didn't know which way to go. They turned their back when they should have stood their ground, and the outcome became an urban legend gossiped on the playground for years to come.
So if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to make every effort to catch your opponent’s ball. Then in a freak moment of insanity, make your way in the direction of the rush. Why? That ball not only becomes your weapon of destruction for later use; but it becomes your shield to deflect the enemy’s attacks when hurled at you. So even if logic tells you to turn around and retreat, follow what your heart knows to be true; dig your heels in and stand firm for your victory is just moments away.
In life, the Word of God is like that little red rubber ball. When Satan tries to throw trials and difficulties your way, it becomes your shield so that you can temporarily deflect the enemy’s attacks. Thus, enabling yourself to catch your breath and gain a proper perspective on what is really going on. It provides you the stability to, “Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope” (Psalm 119:116). During the first moments of any heated exchange, there’s no doubt; fear can set in. And your emotions if not put in check, can get the best of you and make you rethink your initial game plan. But it’s at these moments in life that if you will just, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). For it is the Word of God that will correct, guide, and protect you.
Yes, there are times in life that we may just narrowly escape; we may even get caught in another barrage of attacks. And unfortunately they may come so often that we live our lives without ever knowing if the waves of attack will ever cease. But it’s during these difficult times that character is born. Remember when David walked toward Goliath? The Bible tells us that he had already shrugged off the cumbersome armor and was dressed in just his simple tunic. He didn’t have a massive sword to help him engage his enemy. No, David was armed with just a few smooth stones and a slingshot. And as the story goes, David did not retreat in fear; instead he approached Goliath with all certainty of his impending victory.
As Goliath stood there cursing David with threats and insults, it is here in the story we see David’s security in his faith. David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty” (1 Samuel 17:45). As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag to get a stone and slung one of them at Goliath's head. With all the armor Goliath was draped with, the stone still managed to find a hole in the armor covering his head. And as the stone sank into the giant's forehead, he fell face down on the ground, which ended in his demise.
David's faith in God allowed him to look at the giant from a different perspective. From David’s viewpoint, Goliath was merely a mortal man rebelling against the almighty God. God allowed David to see things from His point of view. What we learn from this account is that when situations present themselves that in the natural seem impossible for us, they soon seem possible when viewing them from God's perspective.
Just like in dodgeball, when we make the decision to stand firm and use the ball (the Word of God) to deflect the attacks of our opponents, we stop seeing things like a victim and realize victory is close at hand. Now I’m not going to say that facing trials are ever easy. And you may not understand why you must face the challenges that the enemy seems to always stir up for you. But remember, adversity breeds character; and after all, turmoil is just temporary. But character... It lasts a lifetime.
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time...
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