Many years ago, I read someone’s blog and the title intrigued me. “The Most Intimidating Athletes of the Past 25 Years”. The author’s list included: boxer Floyd Mayweather Junior who retired with a 50-0 record; football/baseball great Bo Jackson who was ranked by ESPN as the greatest athlete of all time; 6ft-10” pitcher Randy Johnson (The Big Unit) with a 100mph+ fastball; NHL hockey great Wayne Gretzky who shares or owns 61 NHL records; and finally LeBron James who could pass, run, jump, shoot and defend against the best players, perhaps like no one else before him. Others would include different names.
If you spoke with the athletes who competed against the above sports phenoms, you would frequently hear the word “intimidation”. Just the presence of one of those superstars would cause their competitors to be intimidated. I remember a comical, yet very real, situation from the 1993 MLB All-Star Game where Seattle Mariners’ Randy Johnson pitched against Philadelphia Phillies’ John Kruk. The first 100 mph fastball sailed over Kruk’s head. Kruk was one scared customer after that and shrunk back from the plate on subsequent pitches simply waving his bat at three strikes. Kruk was clearly, and justifiably, intimidated by the Big Unit.
On a more serious note, if you choose to walk the path of a disciple of Christ, a true follower of Jesus, you can be certain that there will be periods in your life where you feel incredible pressure and even intimidation by the evil that persists around you. Paul described it as follows: 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4: 8-9). In situations like this, there is an incredible temptation to simply crumble under the pressure, to shrink back and throw up the white flag. The author of the book of Hebrews clearly understood this feeling and in today’s scripture wanted to encourage the Hebrew church, which was facing intense persecution. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10: 35-39).
It is important for each follower of Christ to recognize that you will face trials in life. The Apostle Peter said: 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13). When you feel pressed from every side and you feel like retreating rather than carrying on with the mission God has given you, remember that you “do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed”. You are a member of the body of Christ. Remind yourself that Christ already won the battle on the cross and while the enemy may be able to cause you physical and even emotional pain, your savior is greater, and nothing can pluck you from His arms. You belong “to those who have faith and are saved”.