I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. –1 John 2:14
I’m completely tuckered out tonight. Over the last week, my sinuses have been in open rebellion, laying me low a good bit of the time. Tuesday I felt well enough to accompany Tom to Tae Kwon Do class, an hour of exercise that saw me leaning against the wall as much of the time as I could manage. Tonight, we went again, and our instructor decided to wring it out of us. Rather than taking turns practicing kicks on the heavy bag, we lined up and kicked the air, moving through each kick on the list once, twice, and then three times in rapid succession. After the first half dozen kicks, the sweat was pouring off my face. Those weren’t even the demanding ones. The Mule Kick, which has us drop our hands to the ground in front of us and kick backward with one leg, about knocked me down. Each time I stood back up, I knew I couldn’t do it again.
Eventually we came to the last kick, the Switchfoot. It had me huffing and puffing after the third repetition, but I managed. Had I sat out, I’d have gotten the evil from the black belts, including my son. They believe you have to have the warrior spirit within you. I guess I believe that, but with the sinuses still not fully back on the reservation, breathing seemed to trump the warrior spirit.
It aggravates me, but I’m not nineteen years old any more. My body doesn’t heal like it used to. I can’t stay up until all hours without outcome. It’s not like I’m getting old, but I am getting older.
This realization is why I’m encouraged by todays’ verse. While the strength of my lungs and my legs isn’t quite what it used to be, my strength through the spirit of God is not diminished one bit, and that strength far exceeds any warrior spirit or physical strength a person might possess. Perhaps that’s why John aims these words at the young man. He assures them that they are strong, but then makes it clear why they are strong, not through their own strength but through the strength of the Holy Spirit within them.
When I feel flushed with money, talent, or power–I’m not sure when that’s ever going to happen, but I’m speaking hypothetically here–then I can run the risk of believing that strength comes from my efforts. It does not. I must remember that today, tomorrow, and beyond. Otherwise, the next Switchfoot kick is likely to leave me sprawled out on my back.