Hand Ball And The Colonel

Gerald Wright tell this story of the time he took Dad to the gym on the Military Base in Ramstein, Germany, to play handball.
“I was no good, (at Hand Ball), so Jack said he would find someone to pair up with.” He looked on the bulletin board and found the Base Champion, a ‘full bird’ Colonel. He called and introduced himself as “Big Jack Exum from Dallas, Texas,” and said he was looking for someone to play a game of handball with him. That afternoon, they got together and Jack won the first game hands down, but was puzzled at how easily he had defeated this champion. He came over to me (on the bleachers), and said “This guy keeps calling me “Sir!” during the game.” I laughed and said, “The guy probably thinks you are a General or something!” He replied, “Well, I’m going to ‘lay it on him,’ that I am just a preacher and see how it goes.” He did, and the guy ‘beat his brains out!’ Well, I learned a lot that day, because when Jack would miss a shot, he would slam himself against the wall due to his competitive spirit. Jack was not a typical preacher.”
There’s nothing wrong with being competitive, and giving it everything you’ve got, and while life is not all about winning, it is important to us. We go to see our team win. We scream and holler, wear weird things and go crazy to encourage our team to win, and celebrate when we do win.
A bigger issue is how we play the game? We have all heard the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts.”
Life is a game of sorts, and we don’t always win. At times we look back, and see more defeats than victories, but that’s not even the important thing. What is important about life is do we learn? We learn more from our defeats, than we do our victories. Character is tested and built by experiencing and learning from life’s hard lessons. It reveals what a person is, and where corrections need to be made.
Growing in grace as a Christian, is not easy. Paul uses three comparisons to illustrate in II Timothy 2:1-7.
He begins with the “soldier.” Being a good soldier is not easy. Paul says, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Don’t get tangled up in things which distract you from serving Jesus.
He then uses the example of an “athlete.” His focus here is competing according to the rules. It’s good to win, but better to win according to the rules.
Lastly he uses the illustration of the “hard-working farmer.” It takes work to be a farmer, athlete or soldier… and all have their just rewards.
One more thing, don’t quit!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

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