Monday, March 28, 2016

Knocked Down

     I remember it well. It had all happened so fast... the guy I was competing against had come over the top of my kick and caught me with a hard right hook to the nose that sent me to the mat. I'm a light fighter, so knocking me down isn't generally too hard. But this time, my world went black for a moment before I hit the ground, and I could already feel the blood welling up in my nostrils.

     I remember somebody trying to help me up and knocking his hand away cause I could already feel the blood coming from my nose. It was bleeding, a lot. My head hurt, and I already knew I was losing the fight. But I still remember the referee walking over leaning over me and saying those words, "Do you want to continue?" I remember my coach asking how much time was left on the clock. And I still remember what went through my mind and what came out of my mouth.

     My mind thought, "There's no way you can win this fight. This guy is beating you every which way you can turn. His legs are longer, he's kicking harder, he's kicking higher, he's faster... no way." My mouth, very rebelliously, said, "Heck, yeah." I don't use that word often, but it did kinda slip out in the adrenaline high of the moment.

    In the Bible, we meet a great warlord named David. We meet this ancient warrior as a teenager, a sheepherder. Yet even as a sheepherder, we see the seeds of his raw courage and great strength. When a lion steals a lamb, this teenage David does not run for his father's servants. He runs after the lion and kills it personally. When a bear steals a lamb, David does not carry the story home so his dad can deal with it. He personally chases the bear down and kills it. This is a teenager I wouldn't want to mess with.

     Just a few short years later, we meet still teenage David standing in a valley, facing a 9 foot tall giant of a man... and David does precisely what we'd expect of a lion-slaying, bear-bashing warrior: he knocks the giant down and cuts his head off with his own sword. Seriously, it's hard to get any more epic than killing the giant with his own sword and then holding up his bloodied head for your and his army to see. It's impossible not to look pretty downright scary in that pose.

     We see the warrior mature into a trusted officer until we hear women surrounded the road that he travels on the way back from his victories, singing, "Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands." I think I've made my point. David is a tough guy, a strong, able warrior, a soldier who literally has thousands of warriors who have died at his hands. But I'm not done describing him yet.

     This David is set up by his prospective father-in-law, baiting David with his love for Saul's daughter, Michal (hmm, none of us have ever heard of over-zealous fathers now, have we? :), tempting him out to do battle in order to see him killed. David beats the odds, killing twice the number of Philistines necessary for him to win his lady-love. This dude is... well, tough. One more step... when David is finally chased out of the capital, he soon gathers a group of rough criminals, men on the run for their lives. These men rally around David and make him their leader. Picture a gang... when was the last time you saw a gang of men choose a scholarly looking dude with glasses and thick books as their leader?

      David was the toughest of the tough. He was a bloody man, a warrior who killed thousands of men. A fearsome warlord, a hard leader, at times a tyrant, a murderer, a rough man.

     "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears, I drench my couch with weeping." Yes, this was the same guy. The same man who walked into a valley against a raging giant with just a leather sling and mocks him, taunting him before the world, is the same man who writes that he can literally wring water from his bed at night from the sorrow and darkness of his heart.

     If you ever thought it was a sign of weakness to feel darkness, despair, or weakness, I hope that thought just got blown out of the water. It's a sign of humanity that even the strongest, boldest men can experience. The pain is real. The pain is palpable. And that's okay. We get knocked down. We find solace in the darkness; or more frequently, we find more loneliness there. We know the smell of the mat and the feel of blood, our blood. We know the crush of defeat sometimes.

     I won the fight that day. It was my glove that was raised at the end of that match. My face and uniform were still bloodsplattered, I was sore, I was weak, but I won. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't all fun. It was pain and fear and blood and sweat.

     Something, something gets us through those dark times. Something gets us back off the mat. Something makes us look up at life beating us bloody and say, "Heck, yeah, I'm getting back up." Something makes us stand back up, knowing we'll get hit again and again, knowing we'll get knocked down again.

     "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." You remember camping as a kid, particularly without a tent? Every noise, every rustling leaf, every shadow, every movement is a bear a pack of wolves, or a sasquatch. Or possibly an ax murderer. But worse... the night lasts forever. It is a scientifically proven fact that nights spent outside in the woods without a tent last an average of 12 hours longer than a night inside a house.

     The night lasts forever! Every noise, ever sound in the wakeful silence jerks our sleepless open again. It never ends. But morning! You remember that first ray of dawn that topped the hills or cut through the trees around you? You remember how eagerly you peered at it, checking and doublechecking to see if you were seeing the real thing?

     And you remember how the pack of wolves turned into a pair of chipmunks, and the fearsome sasquatch became a raccoon passing through camp? When the night is over, the light dawns with all its awe and splendor, giving us the warmth, the light, the hope that we need to keep going, to feel safety, to know hope.

     There will be sadness. But there will be a morning! There will be a shout, a sound of victory, of hope, of joy! If we endure the darkness and the night, the morning is there! If we pull ourselves off the mat, if we wipe the blood on our sleeves and tighten our gloves and reset our mouthguards, we can make it. We can make it through the night... and the morning waits.

     There will be a morning. There will be a morning. Oh, no doubt, the night is dark and foreboding. There is sorrow there, none will argue. But when the night is over, the victory of the light and the sun is clearly seen, flooding our lives with hope and strength to continue on. Hold on for the morning, friend. Get back up, stay strong, and hold on for the morning!


  1. I love this post. Not only was it incredibly well-written, but it's so, so true.

    1. I'm glad you found it so! Thanks for checking it out, Miss D.