A Different Kind of Fight

Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve been following the stories of 2 men who recently had the good fortune to attend one of the Ransomed Heart’s boot camps hosted by John Eldredge.

Both of them have been freely sharing the changes that they are undergoing as a result of this experience.

To help understand the change that’s taking place, I want to share a story. It’s a true story, and it gives us some physical parallels to the spiritual changes that these men are undergoing.

Years ago, when I was an enthusiastic participant in martial arts, we had a particular student named William.

William was a classic underachiever – in everything he did. Saddled with the additional burden of a verbally abusive father, he seemed destined to a life of mediocrity at best.

About two months before the state karate tournament was to be held, he approached me and mumbled, almost imperceptibly, that he wanted to compete in the tournament. After drilling him on the amount of preparation needed, it fell to me to begin training him.

He was quite a tall boy at the time. Thin. Uncoordinated and awkward. But he sincerely wanted to do this.

Watching him in class, the only really good technique he had was the classic karate side kick. But it was pitifully slow. And so, that was where we concentrated for those months leading up to the tournament. After a while, he reached the point where we could also add in a 2nd technique – the backfist.

And so we drilled. And drilled. And drilled. And he actually improved. With each passing week he got stronger and faster.

On the day of the tournament, I glanced up into the stands and spotted William’s father. Twisting and turning in his seat, his annoyance at being there was obvious.

When William stepped into the ring for his first match (and what I reluctantly thought would be his last), the eyes of everyone in the gym were focussed on him.

When the command to “fight” was given, everyone, including me, was shocked at what happened.

William literally exploded off the line and nailed his opponent on the chin with the fastest, most accurate sidekick I’d ever seen. Before the poor guy could blink, a thundering backfist caught him on the forehead.

But the true spectacle was taking place in the stands. Looking up, I saw William’s father. He sat bolt upright in his seat, as if a great electric charge had just gone through him.

William made short work of the remaining competitors in his division and went home as the state champion that day.

3 months later, he took the gold medal in the AAU Junior Olympics.

There were two people that didn’t make it home on that day. The abusive father somehow just disappeared – the man who had verbally abused William for all that time was transformed into a loving and supportive dad.

And the underachiever went on to earn a full academic scholarship to one of the country’s top-rated engineering programs.

Now – there are a couple of reasons that I wanted to share this particular story with you.

First, we all love stories (especially when they’re true) where the loser turns into a winner. William earned his spot. He worked for months and spilled gallons of sweat to get there.

And second, for my two Christian brothers that are in the midst of their change, the spiritual battles they are fighting are all the more difficult. And they are on a journey that is not all that dissimilar to the one that you’ve just read. It will take determination, sweat and a lot of prayer to cross that line.

The journey will be tough, dangerous and it will take everything they’ve got to get there.

For Theo and DW – this one’s for you.


  1. Randy Calaway says:

    Interesting! Awesome story. God works in mysteriious ways.

    So happens I tend towards the underachiever, and I took martial arts, and excelled as a fighter. This was during an intense time in my life-The demise of a career and a marriage. It was a discipline I enjoyed, I was good at. My season of about two years in the martial arts was a true Godsend- In it’s own measure.
    Yes, I do wish I would have continued in the martial arts.

    But alas, in the long run, it is always about the love of Christ that does not fail. That love where He never leaves us or forsakes us- Yet I walk through the valley, He is there.

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