But Jesus Knows…

When I was thirteen, I was in a traveling karate demonstration team:  Champions for Christ.  That’s right… breaking boards for Jesus.

I got to wear a star-spangled uniform.  I broke boards.  I held up a watermelon, which my coach sliced through with a sword…while he was blindfolded.  The whole experience was pretty bad ass.

And then, after the demonstration, I used my newfound celebrity to lead kids to Jesus, on the Romans Road (I think the verses are still marked in the pink Bible that I had during my teenage years).  And whether you believe in this stuff or not, it was certainly better some of the alternatives my friends had discovered.  I wanted to share my faith, wanted other kids to know where faith in God could take them.

But, somewhere along the way, I developed a bit of a phobia of those boards I was supposed to be breaking.  At one point, I hit a slightly green board–and I hit it against the grain, the impact of which reverberated through my body for what felt like hours.  After that, I was scared of the boards.  And it became increasingly difficult to conquer (or break) something that I feared.

I would kick the board.  My foot would bound off of it, a little bruised for the trying.  This happened multiple times before I dissolved into tears.

My coach listened closely to my fears.  And what was his penetrating insight, his solution to help me work through the problem?  He decided that we could just pre-cut the boards so that they would be sure to break.

Awesome.  Sure takes a lot of faith to break a board THAT IS ALREADY CUT.

Our next demonstration went off without a hitch.  What could go wrong, really?  All I had to do was deliver a mild tap to the board, and it broke right in half, to the cheers of the audience. And then I told the kids that crowed around me how God could change their lives, how He could help them do things they could never do themselves.

That December, our team traveled to Gatlinburg, TN to perform in front of  hundreds of high school youth group kids.  Gatlinburg, the coolest retreat destination in the early 1990s, elicited such excitement from me that I couldn’t sleep for nights before the performance.

As I stood on the stage, in front of all my youth group friends, with music pounding and lights flashing, I knew that I had really arrived.  I stepped back into my kicking stance, put my foot up to measure the kick… and the board snapped in half.  I had barely touched it.  My partner quickly pushed the board back together; I set up for the kick, and he dramatically flung the two sides of the board in opposite directions.  But the damage had been done.  Everyone knew that I wasn’t breaking those boards on my own.  And, for the first time, it dawned on me that I was a fraud.  I didn’t have the faith, in myself or in God, to carry out the task given to me.  Fear caused me readily relinquish my integrity.  Fear quickly overpowered my faith.

I wish that, when presented with the opportunity, my coach had taught me how to invision my success… to see through the obstacle.  Or that he had suggested quiet meditation/prayer to focus me before the demos.  Instead, he suggested that I cheat.  And I gratefully accepted his offer…  because, it turns out, I had never believed in myself very much anyway.

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