Anyhow, I was there watching one of my favorite players, Leyton Hewitt, playing a guy that had to qualify to make the tournament, meaning that he had to win his way in. Leyton is a former number one player who won the “Big One” (Wimbledon) many years ago. He might be past his prime now but he was expected to run all over his opponent, whose name is “Go Soeda”. It was kind of cool to hear people yelling, “go GO!” all night long. Even when they’d yell, “come on, GO” it was kind of weird. So, Leyton is going (ha ha) along just fine until a very bad call did not go his way. Let’s just say he got a little angry. He yelled at the umpire. He yelled at his trainer. Judging by the way he’d look up at the sky and throw up his hands, it appeared that he was yelling at God. I give him credit for not swearing, but he was clearly unhappy. When the players sat down again for their break he continued to badger the poor umpire. He threw his water bottle on the ground. He kicked his towel. He stomped back onto the court.
Then he lost.
We were all stunned. A guy who had to earn the right to even have the chance to play in the tournament soundly beat a former world number one. Sort of. I mean, I give “Go” the credit for hanging in there, but after Leyton’s tantrum it was clear that he was beating himself. Error after error. Ball after ball into the net. Talking angrily to himself after every mistake. Leyton Hewitt was never able to overcome that brief moment, that one call that did make a difference but should not have cost him the match. When the match was over Leyton did not shake the umpire’s hand (it is customary to do so), instead he quickly grabbed his stuff and walked off the court while giving little more than a brief wave to the adoring crowd. He could not overcome the setback.
I have wondered at times how Peter got over being called satan (for you English majors out there, I have always refused to capitalize the name ‘satan’, just so you know). Jesus told his disciples that he was going to be betrayed, killed, and then buried and raised. In the ultimate expression of a biblical “I got your back”, Peter said, “no, not going to happen as long as I am around.” “Let them come and try to get you Jesus and they will be sorry.” I’ve always thought that it was quite honorable for Peter to stand up and defend Jesus, I mean come on, the other 11 just sat there like statues with a glazed over look in their eyes. Rather than the expected response from Jesus, you know, “well thank you Peter I love you too”, Jesus called him satan. He called him evil. He said it like this, “get behind me satan, you have your mind set on earthly things rather than on heavenly things.” I doubt Peter heard anything past “satan”.
If I’m Peter in that moment, I cower in the corner of a distant abandoned room for the rest of my life. Being called satan by the Son of God is like the ultimate shame moment. Does it get any worse? Judas betrayed Jesus to his death and he didn’t earn the title of “person that embodies all that’s evil in the universe”. How did Peter overcome that moment? How did he ever get that out of his mind? How did he live his life, post resurrection, without having nightmares about that exchange with Jesus?
No way Peter “forgot about it”. If Peter was a human being - and he was - he had to be thinking about it. He had to have lain there at night and thought about the shame he felt when Jesus rebuked him in the worst kind of way. He had to have heard those words in his sleep.
You've heard me say this before, I think. When life brings us to those moments that we cannot forget, we are faced with a choice. We can let it destroy us, or, we can live our lives in spite of what has happened. I’m not sure there is another choice actually.
It is just as impossible to forget about some awful thing that has happened to you in your past as it would have been for Leyton Hewitt to forget about a call that turned the momentum in his match. Leyton let it destroy him (figuratively speaking of course). I've seen dozens of players go through all kinds of trauma on the court, from high winds to bad calls to injuries, only to come back and win. How? They are able to continue the game despite the setbacks. Just so you know, those are the matches that get remembered.
So, how about you? Will you allow the things that have happened in your past destroy you? Or, can you, will you, find a way to live your life despite the things that have tried to set you back. You can only do it with God’s help, and, it is always a good idea to solicit the aid of someone else. Ask someone to help you, and if they can’t, keep asking until you find someone who will. I have no doubt that Peter’s fellow disciples gave him huge doses of love when he’d remember the “get behind me satan day”.
Live your life in spite of. Or, be destroyed.
Could be one of the biggest choices you’ll ever make in life.
I don’t have to tell you which choice God is in now do I?
Continue in your game…