Preface: As I posted this I had to smile at the concurrent running thread I saw on Should Christians watch physical fighting.
Chapter 6 Fight of the Decade
As I walked down the dimly lit corridor that led into the large sports arena, I was still puzzling at the giant sign outside the building announcing the Match of the Decade. What did that mean?
The crowd sounds grew louder and louder as I turned the corner and walked up the incline to the third level. As I anticipated what I would soon see, I couldn't quite remember how I got here or even buying a ticket. There were lots of shuffling sounds as people were finding their places, late-comers like me; the sound of programs rattling and low comments between two or three people huddled together. I wondered if they were discussing the the upcoming event or maybe what had taken place previously that evening, or what might follow later. I was sure I heard a few placing bets.
I stopped at the top of the ramp, taking in as much as I could in the low light. It was the size of the crowd that surprised me, made me feel strange, anxious. Of course the four balconies, floors really, made a big difference in seating capacity. From outside, the building didn't look like so many people could fit into this space. The line outside had given no hint of how many people might witness this Fight of the Decade. Had people come early and been waiting inside, the way people wait days outside a theater to see the first showing of the latest rave movie?
As I thought of how to make my way to my seat without attracting attention, I couldn't shake a sense that there was something unreal about all this. Where was I exactly? I knew I wasn't in the Seattle Kingdome because that had been torn down. Slowly the lights came up and large, unseen spotlights focused on the dazzling white square in the center of this large space. The view stopped me in my tracks. Yes, my balcony seat was much preferable, price for price, to a seat on the main level, way in the back, where you couldn't see past or over the people in front of you.
Still it was an odd perspective, a bit like looking through a wide angle camera lens, or maybe even a fish-eye. I could see everything clearly but the distance made the ring look too small, a miniature of what it should be, what it really was. That must be it. There was an air of unreality to this balcony perspective. This definitely looked like a boxing match and probably for some major title or long sought prize by the look of things.
Why did they call it a ring? It was clearly square and it sat like a table with a tightly fitting table cloth, all white. There was a noticeable reflection from the surface, like a sheen, probably the coating on the material that would make any clean up easier. Ugh. I wondered how much blood had been spilled in that ring, how many had died. I could see a wire cable hanging down in the center. That would be the mike for the announcer or referee.
I could hardly move. The light commanded everyones attention, along with mine, making progress toward my seat like groping in the darkness.
What didn't make sense were all the people in the ring. How could this be a fight with more than two opponents? One corner had so many people milling around, I couldn't even count them. I had to laugh as I imagined them saying, Excuse me. Pardon me. May I? as they passed each other almost aimlessly. Some were hugging each other when they met, like it was a social gathering at a beach somewhere. Others looked serious as they faced each other in conversations that had few words. One of those pairs shook hands stiffly and then hugged. It looked like there was even a tearful expression on one face. And now it looked like another fighter had just come down a locker-room isle and was climbing into the ring to join this group. So, I guessed, not everyone was there yet.
They were dressed so oddly, all differently. The only thing they had in common was they all wore red with a touch of gold. Well, almost all of them. I wished I had brought binoculars. Then again as I really focused on what was in front of me, the object of my interest came into focus. Part of that odd perspective? I was sure some were barefoot and I caught a flash of light off the crystal high heel of one stylish pair of shoes! There were even babies being carried, and old people that touched the people they passed. Were they just keeping their balance? Some were totally separated from others like the one curled up in the corner sleeping. Another looked to be about 7 years old and was just sitting at the edge of the ring, all alone, with his legs dangled over the edge, swinging them as he held onto one of the two overhead ropes that keep people from being knocked out of the ring. At least that looked like the purpose of the ropes. It was hard to miss the tall one near the center of them. Quite a few men were gathered close to him, like they were conferring on strategy that is, if this strange event were really going to be a fight. They looked to be the only ones in the group that were taking things seriously, deadly seriously. The goings on in this corner were hard to pull my eyes away from. I'd made it to the edge of the row where my empty seat stood out in the packed arena. It wouldn't do to be blocking people's view when this event started.
But there was another corner and something didn't seem quite right there. First, there were just three figures there. It didn't look like they were expecting any one else to join them. They were all dressed alike in long flowing dark robes with hoods that obscured their faces. If the robes had not been so long they would have been just the sort fighters wear before a fight begins. Secondly, for the most part they stood almost motionless, staring across the ring at the group that was in the opposite corner. Sizing up each one, I guessed. From time to time they leaned toward one another exchanging a few words, whisper-like, not that anyone could overhear them above the commotion inside and outside the ring. Although one stood clearly in front of the others, they all looked imposing, equally strong and fit. By comparison, each stood head and shoulders over all but the tall one in the group across from them. If this really was a fight, these three looked ready for it. They looked seasoned, almost eager. Although the numbers were really against them, I imagined them assessing and dividing up their I glanced at the other corner their victims?
As I inched my way down the row toward my seat, a strange wave sweep through me. I thought, Yes, this could be the 'The Battle of the Decade', if for no other reason than the unusual arrangements in that ring. It was like there was a diagonal line drawn there that no one crossed, despite the fact that one corner was very crowded and the other nearly empty. The shimmering white space stretching out in front of the three figures really stood out, actually distinguishing the two corners. Then there was something that eluded me suggesting this wasn't the first time such an event had occurred.
I was almost to my seat when out of nowhere a man stepped to the center of the ring, and pulled down the over head microphone. His spotless formal attire, and brisk purposeful stride made him stand out from all the others in the ring. He waited as the sounds of the arena diminished. At his presence the three figures seemed to inch forward in perfect unison. Across from them the group seemed to pull together a bit, although there were many that did not as though they were oblivious to what was about to happen.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, his voiced boomed as he paused. IN THIS CORNER, WEARING RED AND GOLD, WEIGHING IN AT --- he paused as his eyes slowly swept across those grouped in one corner, most of them still now, and looking at the tall one --- ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO, his arm made a sweeping gesture toward the corner, THE CHILDREN OF GOD. People all around me must have heard the gasp that escaped me. I stood frozen in front of my seat, and nearly deaf to the cheer of sound that followed. Underneath the cheering I was sure I heard deep low hissing sounds. The children of God? Of God! Why had I not bought a program ?
AND IN THIS CORNER, WEARING BLACK WEIGHING IN .... There was a flurry of motion as the three figures shook off their hoods, revealing dazzling faces with magnetic smiles. There were some low almost adoring oooos and a few sighs all around the arena in a tone that reminded me of those that had hissed. Even a few of their opponents looked dazzled as some of them stared from across the ring. It looked like nothing would be enough to wake the one sleeping in the back of the corner.
Clearly this was part of some strategy. These three were not uninformed about their effect on others. I also noticed, as the robe of one fluttered open briefly, that his robe concealed the fact that this one figure was actually three figures, two sitting on the shoulders of the one below him. Clever deception I thought. Three large opponents were more intimidating than two large ones and three midgets. And there would be the element of surprise once the fight began.
WEIGHING IN AT 3 .... he continued again gesturing to their corner .... THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL!
I dropped like a rock into my seat. When I could think, my mind was racing, swirling. Where was I? What was happening? Is this a dream? It couldn't be. It was way too real. Suddenly I understood why things seemed so unusual, the odd perspective, how I could see small details when I really looked at them. Spiritual things were going on all around me and though I was sure I'd missed a lot, I was catching sight of what was really happening here.
Slowly as the blood returned to my brain, I recalled reports I had heard and read: previous fights, skirmishes really in alleyways and parks. Preliminaries? As I searched my brain-cells for details, all I could find from the past were reports of chaos. Three figures having a hay-day: drawing their opponents, mesmerized, into their corner and also mixing into the corner of the children of God. That way there was no way to tell who was doing the damage in that corner. Brothers would mistakenly blame brothers. How many years, or centuries, had this been going on? In how many arenas?
Ever so slowly a thought like a light dawned on me. As impossible as it had seemed one moment ago, relief and hope made their way into my body and mind. I began to thank God. The children of God had identified and sharply separated themselves from true enemies, the true causes of uproar the world, the flesh and the devil. The sharp separation in the ring showed that, like territories separated by a great gulf or fire-brake . With this clarity, this clear separation, deception and confusion, along with the fall-out of blaming and attacking one another would be hard to pull off by those three. At the very least, if there were problems, reconciliation would be quick and the adversary identified and thrown out, over to the other corner where it belonged.
No wonder there was standing room only! I couldn't stop thanking God for this break-though and I was so grateful that I was one of the witnesses to this.
Chapter 7 Round #1
I was glad for the break between rounds. No wonder so many in the audience had been feverishly reading their programs, discussing discoveries in small groups. Fortunately, I found the thick fight program on the floor at my feet where someone had let it drop between the seats in front of me. Reading it helped me make sense of the first round I had just witnessed. In addition to a a history of previous battles, plans of attack, victories and defeats, there were summaries of strengths and weaknesses and the strategies of the three figures.
John was one of my best friends lately and he was right about the world, as the program proved. The world was tricky, very tricky and it had more than a one-two punch. The world had a one-two-three punch and these midgets were full of surprises...............
Happy New Year:Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13