I remember my first year of high school, it was the tenth grade and I was just a little guy standing about 5’6” and only weighing 110 pounds. I had high hopes of going out for the football team but that was quickly dispelled after the first week of practice. I was beaten, bruised and had permanent damage to my dream of playing football for the high school team. My brother had attended the same high school several years before I did and he was on the wrestling team so it seemed natural that I should follow in his footsteps and go out for the team. Since I couldn’t knock any 200 pound football lineman around maybe I would have better luck with someone my own size.
The wrestling team was just the sport that I thought I could excel in. I would be wrestling someone that was my own size and in order to make varsity all you had to do was to win the practice match with your teammate. I managed to win my practice matches each week, mainly because there was maybe only one other person in your weight group that would challenge you for the varsity position.
My first year on the team was a disaster, I didn’t win one match. In fact, I lost every one of my ten matches and eight of them I was pinned. You would think it didn’t matter if you lost your match by a decision or by being pinned but this is an individual sport as well as a team sport so when you lose a match by a pin the other team gets five points and only gets three points for a decision. I quickly got the endearing name of “Canvasback Beckette”.
I finished the year and I assumed that my wrestling career was finished also. When it came time for the next season, I told the coach that I was hanging up my headgear. He couldn’t believe the words that came out of mouth. He said, “Beckette you can’t quit, you have a years’ experience and that will make all the difference in your second year. You will build on your mistakes and you will have a better year. I reluctantly decided to join the team for a second year and the coach was right, I had a little bit of a better year. I only lost eight matches out of ten but I wasn’t pinned at all. My final year, I joined the team again and this year I won all my matches except for two and I was able to compete in the State Championships. I didn’t win but I had come a long way in just three years.
I tell you all this because perseverance is a quality that we all need to have especially in our Christian walk. Rom 5:2-4 tells us that we should rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I have learned to persevere in all that I do because I have experienced the joys of winning not only in my wrestling career but also in my spiritual Christian walk. I accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was 12 years old and the journey has been one of being pinned by Satan early on but my Coach Jesus saw something in me that He knew I would be a value to His team.
It took me 57 years to use my life experiences and spiritual setbacks to join His team in ministry. The Lord saw something in me even after all these years to use and help with building the kingdom right here on earth.
James 1:2- Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
— Tom Beckette is pastor of Nighbert United Methodist Church and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.