Ready for a Good Fight

Do you ever draw out of your mental archives experiences of your youth? Do it. You will be amazed if you let your little boy or girl self come out and play in your memory. Did you have a childhood nemesis? Most folks did.

John was my adversary; a real bete noire.

John and his mom moved back to our little home town. His dad had died or something. Kids don’t always get the details.

Mom often told me just before I went off to school not to hit John Vail or say anything bad about him. The instruction always ended with, “You know what the Bible says about how we are to treat orphans.” I really didn’t, but since mom said it and it came from the Bible I figured that meant to be nice to him.

That was hard to do. What mom didn’t know was John Vail was a fighter. A brash little dude at that.

It was common in that era for boys to fight. They didn’t do it because they were mad and though it often resulted in a real whipping it rarely ended in anger. It was as natural as playing marbles, tops, mumbly peg or some other exotic game. In reality it was simply a right of passage.

I didn’t like to fight. I wouldn’t even hang around and watch my friends duke it out. Never did like it, but neither did I like the idea of being a chicken-liver or wimp. That was before the age of the wuss. 

John was there every afternoon when school let out. He was a cocky little guy with a David complex. Guess who was Goliath he felt obligated to take out. I was his target to be picketed on. Perhaps he knew I didn’t like to fight or maybe he knew what my mother told me about what the Bible said and he could pick on me without fear of retaliation.

I never could get mom to tell me about how little orphan boys were supposed to treat us. Obviously his momma wasn’t versed on this feature of the Bible either. If she taught him anything about loving one another he had it worked out in his mind that I was the one to do the loving and he was another, which I was supposed to love him.

One afternoon I backslid. He pushed me over the line and I forgot all about what the Bible said about how we are to treat little orphan boys. I whipped up on John Vail real good, and then walked him home — my new friend.

Somewhere in all of that I guess my temperament was being forged for life. I never have liked confrontation. I have always tried to avoid it, but when necessary, I never have cowered away from it. 

This memory of John Vail is infrequently awakened when a conflict occurred that demanded addressing.

As adults our “fights” are rarely ever physical, rather they are conflicts of a different kind and degree, often ideological. 

The apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.” His reference was not to how he fought, but to the worth of the cause for which he fought. His statement did not simply mean he had fought well, though he had. It meant he found a cause worth fighting for, the “good fight,” and fought it well.

Those live most fully who have found a cause worth fighting for and have given themselves to it. Be sure your cause is worth fighting for.