The Grace Punch — Devotional



I noticed the other day that the sports news headlines were informing viewers about a first round knockout in one of the big UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) matches. I remember during my younger years watching boxing on television. Some of the fights loom big in my memory. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frasier with Howard Coselle providing color commentary with his very unique but fascinating style.

A fighter wants to win by knock-out if he possibly can. When a fighter is introduced at the beginning of the bout, the audience is informed of their fighting record and the number of knockouts they have scored. A fighter wants to be known for the power of his knock out punch. The two simple things that seem to me to make a good fighter is their ability to land a good blow and their ability to take a blow.

I remember the first time I dunned a pair of boxing gloves. It was in the sixth grade in the elementary school I attended. It was the sixties and we had a principal who enjoyed boxing. Occasionally, he would take us boys to the rec room, pair us up, and bring out two pair of gloves and everyone would enjoy watching us duke it out two at a time.

On the first such occasion, though somewhat fearful, I thought "Those gloves with all that padding can’t hurt very much!" About fifteen minutes later, when it was my time to swing at one of my buddies, I found out that the padding didn’t keep it from hurting. I took a punch to the nose and it HURT! It was at that point that I decided if I was going to box, I might as well get mad, too. So I decided instead of being buddies, I’d clobber him in the nose. The next couple of minutes was a more interesting fight which  we both survived. Afterwards, we resumed our buddy relationship but felt proud we had proven that we were blooming toward manhood with a fight in our hearts and a big boxing match to our credit.

Fast forward with me six years to my senior year. It was then we had a football coach who liked boxing. So one rainy day, he gathered the team in our small auditorium, moved the chairs out of the way, and pulled out two pair of boxing gloves.  The coach stipulated that we would have three two-minute rounds in our matches. There were some good ones, too! Again I ended up paired against one of my best buddies.

When the coach blew the whistle to start our match, my buddy who always joked around with me, stopped his joking and started beating the stuffing out of me. It did not seem our football team was impressed as I used my face to inflict damage on my buddy’s fists. I was really happy when the coach blew the whistle that signaled the end of the first round. I was afraid my friend’s hands were going to be really bruised up! While in the chair thinking about how I did not want to go back into the ring but afraid to face the notion of being a quitter, something happened. One of my other good buddies came over to me and said this, "He’s left-handed, and he’s killing you with his left hook. Watch out for the left hook. That’s all he’s got." That proved to be golden advice. He was right. Occasionally, we even called my boxing buddy, "Lefty."

The coach blew the whistle to start round two. Those words, "Watch out for the left hook!", were still ringing in my ears. Well, maybe my ears were ringing because of the pelting my skull had been taking. Anyway, actually armed with some advice, I waded into the ring watching for the left hook. I did not have to wait long at all. After the first round had been a walk in the park for my opponent, he came out swinging away with that left. He had decided that he wanted to knock out his good buddy.

The first left hook he threw, I simply raised my right hand and blocked it. I thought, "Wow! This works!" In addition, my face really appreciated the help because up to this point, it had tried to win the match all by itself. He threw another left, I blocked it. From the crowd I heard my other buddy shout, "Hit him!" It is hard to explain but somehow when you are fighting for your life, and you don’t know what to do, the obvious can sometimes elude you. You get stunned. Things you know run away and hide. Your thinking skills become reduced to that of an armadillo. Yet an armadillo can roll up into a nicely protected shell and play dead. I was without such a shell. I heard my buddy again, "Hit him!" So since it was a boxing match that seemed like a sound suggestion to me.

"Lefty" came at me again. He used his left hook. I blocked it again, and then I remembered I had a left hand as well. I don’t know where it had been hiding until that moment, so I called it into action and swung and let my buddy’s face join the action. After all, it had felt left out to that point in the competition. This seemed to surprise my friend. While he was addled and astonished that I had grown a new limb, I followed up with my good hand. I hit him hard with a right. He staggered. Quickly regaining his composure, he came at me with a different look in his eyes. It was not, "Hey, you want to get a chocolate shake afterwards!" It was more like, "There is not going to be an afterwards!"

I remembered the words, "Watch out for the left hook!" True to form, he swung his left. I blocked it and pelted him again..and again…and again. This continued for a minute or so. The match had swung my way and my face was glad to share the glory with my fists. Finally, after my buddy’s left hook had been blocked once again, I was able to counterpunch (though I did know that is what it was) and land a really hard blow. It turned his whole body around. He had been boxing barefooted. When his body was swung around so quickly, a half-dollar sized patch of skin on the bottom of his left foot which was pressing hard against the tile floor was literally torn off. Yep, it was a grotesque site. The fight was stopped. Me and my face were happy. I did feel badly about my buddy. He limped away with me later that afternoon, and we went and got a chocolate shake. My face and his foot were not even made at each other.

The moral of my boxing days is this: When you are fighting for your life and are taking a beating, listen to the friend in your corner (the Holy Spirit). He will give you wisdom about how to fight. When you obey His golden words of advice, grace comes to the rescue and gives you the POWER to get back on your feet and deliver the punch that will turn things around.

Oh yeah! One other thing, "Watch out for the left hook!"

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Categories : Devotional

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