IF YOU ARE THE BIG TREE I AM THE SMALL AXE
READ David and Goliath – 1 Samuel 17
Like most children of immigrants, I carried out my youth with endless moments of hesitation, second guessing and anxiety. Even in the best of times, children feel like outcasts, pariahs and persona non grata. I felt as if my emotional burdens were justified. I looked different, was smaller than most, skinnier than most and had darker skin than the general Canadian population. The dark skin issue may not be true in today’s Canada, but it was definitely true in the Canada of the 1970’s.
So, when I started high school, I kept my head down, walked quickly from class to class and kept my mouth shut. Not that I did this all the time, but I surely did it when I was walking among the seniors. I feared them! There were hardly any visible minorities when I first attended the school, and finding a place of security and contentment was difficult. Often I would hear the clamoring of racist comments as I passed by the “big kids” in the hall. Yet, I kept up my routine of meekness lest I should be further ridiculed and mocked. There was one kid in particular that would look at me directly as I walked past. As I recall, he was about 5 inches taller than I was, and at least 50 lbs heavier. He would make very nasty comments about my colour and heritage. Of course he always got it wrong. His taunts went on and on throughout the school year, yet I did nothing about it. The day came when I needed to do something about this. By midyear, a new student had joined our school. Like me, he was darker, thinner and shorter than most of the other students. On this most auspicious of days, I could hear the aforementioned racist kid insulting this new student. I had just about enough! I walked over to my bigoted “friend” and asked him when he wanted to meet outside. He was taken aback and looked a bit confused. “What?” he responded”. “Well, we can’t fight inside the school, so where and when do you want to meet?”. He laughed, as did his friends. “I’m serious” I continued. “You look like a coward, I just want to prove it. So when?” He was obviously angered and told me to meet him at 4pm on the road in front of the school. It seemed like the entire student body showed up for this fight. Everyone, with the exception of my adversary! He never came, never mentioned it again, and never was heard another discouraging word from my “enemy”.
I could have handled the situation better I suppose. I could have let my parents be aware of the goings on. But sometimes God uses your mistakes for his benefit. I don’t know in how many ways my boldness changed this bitter boy’s life, but I will tell you this: We are now Facebook friends, and I enjoy looking at pictures of this now full grown man, his beautiful kids, and his Chinese wife!
God can use terrible situations to bring out the best in us. We can indeed be bold, and there are fruits to righteous boldness.
Sometimes you have to be bold for the benefit of others. This act of courage changes not only the recipient of the bold act, but also the one who chooses to be bold.
Give me the courage to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.