I have a confession to make… just hear me out before you pass judgment. I know it’s a risk to bare your soul in front of others, probably the mere word “confession” sends some hearts pounding in anticipation of- some juicy bit of gossip… some dark secret… some character flaw… a big “reveal”. Well, enough of the buildup, I’ll just come right out and say it… I’m a cheater. There you have it. Funny, I don’t feel any better than I did before I said it. I thought “confessionals” were supposed to make you feel better?
Apparently, I’ve been a cheater for a long time. A fact that was most recently revealed to me by my son…
Now, before I go any farther, let me at least explain this much… To cheat is to play by your own rules, or more specifically, not to follow the same set of rules that everyone else is following… maybe even the rules that you are expected to follow.
Technically, the dictionary says: Cheat- act unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination; avoid something undesirable by luck or skill…
Approximately 3 years ago, I invested in some workout equipment for my shop, which has since become my “gym”. My son and I work out together 4 days a week on average. And, as anyone and everyone knows, competition is a great motivator, so from time to time, we compete against one another.
Now remember, because he was only 14 when we started, and shorter, skinnier, and weaker… (and I was 49, built like Adonis and strong as an ox) there was a considerable gap in the amount of weight each of us would use, so we developed a handicap system to make our lifting competitions “fair-er”. When it came time to compete on that last heavy set, we’d each put the appropriate weight on the bar and see how many reps we could get with “our” weight…
Let me point out here, that now after 3 years of lifting- I at 52 and he at 16, that gap between us has narrowed considerably! It’s like the tortoise and the hare, the infamous race where the speedy hare zooms ahead and gets such a lead that he has time to nap, while the persistent little tortoise just keeps incessantly trudging along. I being the hare, in this scenario. No matter the gap I had, the persistent little skinny, young tortoise just never stops. Never lets up. Keeps gaining ground… I can’t catch a break. I’m past my prime and he hasn’t even hit his stride yet. I’m getting gray headed, and he’s just getting facial hair. I’m growing… Wait, I’m getting off subject here, sorry.
Anyway! Not too long back, I had the bar loaded, and just as I was stepping under it, getting ready to do those “god-awful” heavy squats- he ready behind me as my spotter- he heard me muttering to myself. When the set was over, he said, “I’m sorry daddy, I didn’t understand what you said right before you started…” I said, “Oh, that wasn’t to you. I was just praying like I always do, asking God to help me get as many reps as possible…” He paused mid-stride. Stared at me for a second, and then said in utter disbelief, “You mean, all this time… you’ve been cheating?” And there you have it. Apparently, I’ve been acting unfairly to gain an advantage…
Yes, I know... I’m stretching the word’s actual definition to get your attention. But whenever I think about it, I’ve had an advantage that most don’t have my entire life. And I’ve cheated a lot.
When I was 7 years old, I was on my bicycle and was run over by a speeding car; it totaled my little bicycle, but I cheated death. I’ve cheated financial ruin. Cheated heartache. Cheated sickness. Cheated depression. And cheated the grim reaper more times than I can remember.
My daddy used to say that living for God was giving ourselves the advantage of a slight edge. And he taught me that having God in your corner made all the difference in the world. It was the advantage. An edge… the difference maker. The rule bender. It’s what makes the impossible- possible. And it’s what makes the certain- uncertain, and the improbable becomes the probable.
You see, as proud as I am to be an American, my true citizenship is not of this country. I’m just a stranger… a pilgrim, really, in this land. My true citizenship is up in Heaven. And I’m not really living under the same set of rules that everyone else lives under. I have an edge. An advantage… But the beauty of it is, everyone can actually have this same advantage! Anyone can become a member of this Kingdom I’m a part of. You get in, the same way you got into the one you’re in now… You’re born into it. That’s what Nicodemus was really trying to figure out when he went to Jesus that night 2,000 years ago… Jesus just “cut to the chase” so to speak. “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” If you want to live under His rule, and by His rules, and become a sheep of His pasture… And believe me, He takes care of those that are His!! Then you can do it!
I can live in peace, regardless of the touted doom and destruction worst-case scenario predictions that come out almost hourly as the COVID-19 circumnavigates the globe… I’m not worried about the forecasted recession. I have a peace that passes understanding. I have a calm assurance that the Light still shines. And that Light is what makes the difference in my life, and gives me the slight advantage that I need to keep a smile on my face and a spring in my step- even in perilous times. I know that if God is for me, no one can be against me. I know that on the other side of this I’ll look back and say, “Thanks be to God, I’ve once again- against the odds- made it through!” Keep praying. Keep believing. And remember He has the last say!
p.s. Albert Earnest Clifford Young was a distance runner… his first race was in 1983. 543.7 miles and he was 61 years of age when he entered, wearing overalls and work boots. He won by over 10 hours and was accused of cheating. Later it was said that, “He is the only runner for whom an accusation of cheating eventually became an honor.” For an inspirational read, Google “Cliff Young”.
Marine. Husband. Christian. Father. Pastor. A Real Man helping masculine men find their place in God’s Kingdom, without sacrificing masculinity to do it.