The dark musky stadium is packed with standing room only. Some are there to support you…others, not so much. But they’re there. Hundreds. Thousands even. So many you can’t make out what they are saying or what advice they might be giving…if any at all.
You swallow hard to force down the lump settling in the back of your throat. You suck in your cheeks to hide your fear. The bell rings and the crowd goes wild. You’re in control. Your heart races with anticipation. You’ve been here before. You’ve practiced. You know what’s coming. This ain’t your ‘first rodeo’. You’ve been knocked down but you always get up. You’re tough and everyone knows it.
You freeze for a moment. Your opponent is a bit bigger than you expected. There’s a glare piercing from his dark eyes that secretly has you just a bit nervous, but you wouldn’t dare show it. You broaden your shoulders and stick out your chest in an attempt to intimidate him. It doesn’t work. He takes one good swing and you’re down. You stagger a bit and get back up. He takes another swing…and another…and another. Each time he knocks you down you find your way back to your feet. You grow tired each time you pull yourself up by the ropes to face your enemy again. For a moment you think of playing dead but instinct…and pride kick in and once again you’re back on your feet battling a Goliath you never saw coming.
Blood pours from your temple and your strength is nearly nonexistent. The crowd screams but you can’t make out their words. It’s all scattered voices in the back of your throbbing head. He takes another blow right where it hurts. He knows your weak spots. He’s watched every battle. He knows just where to strike you to bring you to your knees. Your face hits the mat and he leans down to whisper in your ear…reminding you how many times he’s already knocked you down. He reminds you how weak you are..how prideful..how worthless. He assures you none of the screaming participants care for you. How could they? “You’re helpless…a lost cause…no good,” he whispers with a wicked laugh before administering the final blow, “You are pathetic.”
You believe him. You’re ready to take your last breath and give in. Just as you do, out of the corner of your eye you see someone standing just outside the ropes. You can’t really make out his face well though he seems familiar. His arm is stretched towards you and he’s leaning in as far as he can without imposing. You blink hard trying to focus…trying to make out who he is…what he wants.
He leans way over the rope stretching as far in as he can to take your hand. For a moment you just stare at him trying to make sense of it. You see his lips moving though you can’t quite make out his words. The crowd is too loud. Your heart is pounding too hard. With the enemy on one side screaming your failures, you find a friend on the other…and he’s smiling. He doesn’t seem to be shaken at all…not like you. You focus on his lips until you finally make out the words, “let me help you”. He leans further…stretches harder.
Suddenly it hits you… he’s your partner. Finally it occurs to you…you weren’t meant to take on the enemy alone. Your partner has been there all along…watching, waiting, and anxiously reaching for your hand. He could see the whole picture. He saw every move the enemy made even before he made it. He’d been there all along waiting to take over. You just never took his hand. There was no need for all the tears, the blood, the fear. If only you’d taken his hand when the bell rang.
You stretch your hand to meet his. Your finger tips are just inches away and you can’t stretch any further. The enemy laughs and pulls you further away from rescue. You hold your hand in the air to take refuge but you can’t in your own strength and from beneath the enemy you cry out with as much energy as your battered body will allow, “please help me”.
Suddenly you feel the grip of his hand as he effortlessly pulls you from captivity. You feel a distinct scar in the palm of his hands as he frees you. You rest in the corner as he takes on the battle without ever breaking a sweat. The enemy runs with fear. Your Savior leans down to wipe your brow and presses his lips against your forehead. With a smile he whispers, “next time…let me in the ring first”.