As a young photojournalist, I was at a small town school for their town’s summer celebration. A close-knit group of present students, former students, parents who were once students and others were gathered together. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie and old-fashioned, wholesome fun. Not a lot had changed over the generations. Certainly not the school building or the good character of the families.
The Tug-of-War Competition was about to start when they realized that one team had one less person than the other. Walking by at just the right time, they decided that I should fill that gap.
If you could see the teams side by side, you’d laugh. The opposing team was filled with strong men, young and old, who’d spent their lives working in the fields. There was one or maybe two of those on my team, but mainly we had some younger students, a few farm wives and, well, me, a 20-something town girl who spent most of her time taking pictures of other people doing things. I did have a pretty strong trigger finger, though.
They put me in the front of the line. That decision alone tells you something about their discernment. I felt like David looking up into the hairy nostrils of many Goliaths. Grinning, they smelled the sweet, smug scent of victory and they were already gloating in the aroma.
But I dug in my little heels, as did my teammates. There’s something about our team that our opponents didn’t know. We were tenacious. In the Tug-of-War World, they were the old, experienced coyotes and we were the mighty badgers. They were overconfident, of course, and put more effort into laughing than tugging. We held our position. We weren’t going down without a valiant fight.
Now here’s the surprising part. We didn’t go down at all. Consequently, somewhere in this world is a Tug-of-War trophy with my name on it. The school no longer exists. It was shut down long ago and the students were transferred to a larger community. In my heart I believe that somehow that trophy survived.
Maybe it’s in a museum and gets shined monthly. Maybe it’s in a place of honor on a fireplace mantel. Or maybe it’s housed in someone’s cow barn. All I know is that the town engraved every team member’s name on that shiny trophy. To this day, the memory of miraculously beating the Goliaths still makes me smile.
We simply didn’t give up. We didn’t look at the opposing team and say, “Well, let’s quit now. There’s no way we can win.”
What a great lesson for life.
There are times when the odds seem overwhelmingly stacked in an opposing direction. You’ll never go to college. Better give up that dream. You’ll never have children. He’s a drug addict. He’ll never change. The cancer is well advanced. Bette say your good-byes. That scrawny shepherd boy will never defeat Goliath of Gath. It’s ridiculous to try.
And yet, against all odds sometimes the underdog comes out on top. Sometimes the obvious does not occur. Sometimes, God intervenes in a life and miracles happen.
A young woman, the first woman in her family, goes go to college and a whole new world opens up to her. The Lord speaks to her and directs her steps. She goes into ministry and her life is never the same.
A couple struggling to have a family for a long time becomes pregnant and has a child. Well, they end up having five. All five faithful to the Lord. Their tradition of faith is already passed onto the next generation.
A person with cancer is miraculously given a clean bill of health. “We don’t know what happened” is spoken out loud.
God speaks to a drug addict in the depths of addiction, lifting him out of his own personal Hell. Turning to the Lord he becomes a pastor, changing countless lives. In fact, he’s still changing lives.
David the shepherd boy defeats the giant who stood almost nine feet tall. He knows something that Goliath didn’t. That we all need to remember. The battle belongs to God.
I don’t know if the Lord looked down at our little Tug-of-War match so long ago and decided to intervene. I know that more than one prayer was said that day for a miracle. And it was a miracle that we won.
All I know is that life can be a tug-of-war. We can seem to be losing to the hairy-nosed Goliaths of the world when the Lord steps in. Sometimes we know immediately. Sometimes it’s only after a lifetime that we look back and see his hand in our lives. Just know this, if you love the Lord and have surrendered your life to him, the God of Angel Armies is always on your side.