It was a searching look I saw before me. As I gazed across the divide between us, I discovered that the eyes of my opponent were reaching into mine, trying to gauge my strength, my resolve, my determination. I returned the favor and got little reading. His eyes were veiled as were my own. I saw in those glassy black eyes of his my own reflection and little else; and I knew that this was not to be simply a battle of physical strength but that my spirit, my will, my strength of character were to be tested, and for a moment I faltered. My heart quailed at the task before me. Then the humiliation of the sack race flashed in my mind, and I felt within me the rising of a power like none before and none since. I knew then that Pastor Juan and his ragged band of Colombians were going down.
My gripped tightened with a Herculean strength. I heard my voice, strong and sure, barking out the order to prepare for battle. I felt the roughness of the manila rope in my palm as the sharp fibers found traction against my skin. I leaned back slightly and felt the team mirror my action. The tension grew as the rope began to tremble beneath our hands and then to my left came the cry "comenzar" "begin" and the battle was on.
The shock of the initial surge from the Colombians staggered us, but we quickly recovered from the surprise and just a quickly we were staggered again. We were outmatched. The bulging biceps and grim expressions of our opponents left little doubt in our minds what the final result of this little foray into the Colombian camp would be.
But then in a flash of inspiration one of my lieutenants in a voice strong and clear began to count and on the count of three we surged as one. As the cadence continued unabated, the expressions of smug confidence on those before us began to crumble, for the realization was dawning that a bunch of skinny, out of shape, gringos were besting this group of burley mountain men. Surge followed surge. Heave followed heave, and finally as the Colombian sun shown down upon us, first Pastor Juan, then Hugo and then the rest tumbled across the line defeated and more than a little surprised. All ended well though, for the tug-of-war defeat balanced the shame of the sack race and the scales of justice were as they should be once more. With balance restored, we all left that Sunday afternoon arm in arm, brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is amazing what team work can accomplish. Things thought impossible are made possible by the concerted effort of a group of people with focus and determination.
In a world were men and women of true Christian strength and character are so greatly needed and so seldom found my prayer is that we will all simply do what is expected of us; for when one falters the whole group suffers. Remember that every hand is needed on the rope, for while we may be weak and vulnerable as individuals, we are strong and invincible as a body of believers.
So let's all grab on, lean back and take care of business for Christ. Love, Pastor Tony