by Joel Lawler
My son Kaleb started playing football. He is eight and this is his first time playing this game. He decided to go all out and play full contact. He could have opted for flag football but that did not interest him. He wanted "the real deal."
His first practice was hard to watch. His team is made up of boys that have played before. They know how to hit. They have learned the skills of blocking. They also know how to tackle. Kaleb is getting "on the job training." He also happens to be one of the smallest guys on his team.
The coach put him on defense during the first few drills. One of the first plays came his way. He was unsure what to do so he froze. Crack went the pads as he was ran over. As his dad, it was really hard to be on the sidelines and see him get creamed. After the pile of boys came apart and he was pulled from the bottom of it, he got back up and ready for the next play.
There have been many times where he has been on the receiving end of big hits. He responds the same way every time. He dusts himself off and gets right back in there.
He is learning not to allow fear to paralyze him. It is easy to "lock up" when what seems like a freight train is bearing down. He is learning to react to fear by moving towards it. He is finding the key is to hit what is coming at him with as much force as he can.
Another lesson that he is learning is trust. He has all kinds of pads on. He also wears a helmet. While these things make for a very dramatic sound on impact, they also are designed to protect him. He is learning to trust that while he is wearing this armor, he is protected. He can trust that while he may get knocked down, for the most part, the armor is going to keep him from getting hurt.
My son Kolin had a similar experience when he first started playing baseball. His first game was on a cool evening. It was just about 50 degrees out. It was a cold night for baseball but they were determined to get the game in. Kolin's first at bat did not go well at all. The very first pitch hit him in the face. That is painful on a warm day. The coolness added to the sting.
He had to learn to not be afraid in order to play. He had to conquer the fear of being hit again if he was going to have any success at all. For awhile, he really struggled with this. When the ball was on its way to the plate, his first reaction was to step back. No matter how hard he tried to hit the ball, his swing was always late because of his initial reaction of moving away from the ball. Once he got past the fear, he was able to hit the ball.
How many times in life does fear keep us from being all that we were designed to be? God created us to be his prize creation with a specific purpose for each one of us. Are we paralyzed by fear? Is the fear of failure keeping us from becoming what we were meant to be?
Some fears are healthy. When there is a real danger or risk involved, fear can keep us from danger. Most fear is not warranted. It is normally based on past events and/or experiences. Knowing that God loves us and He is in control should free us up and give us the courage to live our lives fearlessly.