I was a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout when I got older. I had been in troops in Spokane and Vaughn, Washington, so when we moved to Winnebago, Minnesota, just before my freshman year in high school, my brother Don and I joined the local troop in this little community. Most people think of Boy Scouts as exemplary citizens, and to some extent they are. They attempt to build character and make a positive difference in the boys and the community.
But sometimes, Boy Scouts don’t act like the stereotypical boy scout. It seems that kids always want to find out what the new kids are made out of. So after the first meeting, as we walked outside to go home, I was jumped by two boys who wanted to fight. I have never been much of a fighter. I can’t remember ever punching anyone in my life. But when two kids jump you in the dark, even if they are a year younger than you, your adrenaline kicks in.
Somehow, I was able to get both of them pinned on the ground. At this point, they both gave up and the “fight” was over. From then on, my place in the troop was secure and no one ever gave me any problems from then on.
The funny thing about this experience was, several months later when we were camping at a cabin on Bass Lake, we got into a wrestling tournament. I was unable to beat either of the two on their own. I was surprised by this almost as much as I was surprised by the outcome of the earlier event. I guess when you know it all in fun, you don’t have motivation you have if you perceive a threat of bodily harm.
Now, you might be asking yourself, where is the spiritual message in this story? Glad you asked. There may be several, but one got my attention. We never know how strong we are until our strength is tested. Likewise, we never know how strong our faith is until it is tested.
I have to admit, I have led a pretty uneventful life. I have not had my faith seriously tested. I know there are people who face persecution, torture and death simply for believing in Christ. I don’t know if I could do that. About the extent most Americans deal with is maybe being laughed at or losing prestige with our peers if we really stand up for our faith.
A former minister of mine was doing a study on the martyrs of the early Christian church. They had to face extreme danger and even death because of their faith. I told him, “I don’t know if I could do that.” His response to me was, “God will give you the strength when the time comes.”
I hope he was right. I know I fail daily to live up to what I know I should be. I can identify with Paul in Romans 7. But if we know it really is serious, if we know we must stand or fail, I pray that we will be able to stand up for what we believe in. I hope that, like that night after the Boy Scout meeting, when we are attacked by surprise, that we will have the strength and courage to overcome the test and be victorious.
We may find out that we are stronger than we thought we were.