An Important Spiritual Lesson Gleaned from My Two Gloriously Sub-Par Years on the JV Wrestling Squad

Most of us are mediocre, make unique contributions only in the peculiar ways we screw things up – Carl Trueman

As Americans, we generally believe that if we work hard at something, we will succeed. I know I was taught this as a child and still hear it reinforced frequently. But early on in life, I had my suspicions. For example, when I was in high school I wrestled my freshman and sophomore years. I cannot adequately describe to you the fullness of that disaster. I was awful. On one especially humiliating evening, I was the only person on the team who lost. I walked out of the gym, sat down by myself and cried. It was horrible. Nevertheless, I continued on, determining to be better. My coach told me that if I wanted to win I would need to train harder than my opponent. So I wrestled the guys on the varsity squad who were bigger and stronger than me. They destroyed me in practice every day. I ran more laps. I ran stadiums. I watched my diet strictly. All to no avail. I didn’t improve much. That being said, I considered it a victory that I was never pinned . . . in a dual meet that is . . . I lost count how many times I was pinned in practice, often by guys who were smaller than me, but I digress.

Here’s the point: No matter how much I tried, I never really got better. I was determined. I tried hard. I gave it my all. But I still failed. Please hear me: I’m not complaining. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me. In all actuality, I believe I learned a great lesson: I’m not going to be good at everything. In fact, I may not be great at any one thing throughout the duration of my life! Maybe I’ll just be average. And if that’s the case, I’m fine with it.

We live in a day and age where everything has to be amazing, epic, life-changing, and awesome. Ordinary has to be one of the loneliest words in our vocabulary,” writes theologian Michael Horton, in an upcoming article for Tabletalk. After all, I’ve never seen a parent with a bumper sticker on his or her car that reads, “My child is an ordinary student at such-and-such a school.” No way. As Horton comments:

Our life has to count. We have to leave our mark, have a legacy, and make a difference. . . . And all of this should be something that can be managed, measured, and maintained. We have to live up to our Facebook profile.[1]

I say buck the system. Be like Paul. Boast in your weaknesses, revel in them, embrace them. Realize that your weaknesses are given to you by God so that you might trust him more. Paul said, Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

If you read verses 7-10, it’s clear that Paul says God gave him weaknesses, 1) to keep him from becoming conceited, 2) because Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness, 3) so that Christ may rest upon him, and 4) because when he’s weak, he’s really strong.

This is good news! It means there’s a reason behind our weaknesses; it’s not a coincidence. God has made it so that I’m not good at certain things. This is by design. The design is to make me humble and to display Christ’s power!

Rejoice in and exploit your weaknesses.

 

[1] Michael Horton, “The Ordinary Christian Life,” Tabletalk 38:8 (August 2014): 7-9.

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