The lure of the old and familiar

My very illustrious boxing career lasted for about 15 minutes because an angry, confused, concerned mother decided to enter the ring and stop the fight. If she had not entered, I could have beaten someone’s son to a pulp. If my mother hadn’t entered the ring, I could have been a retired world champion by now, or maybe not but that is not the point.

You see, when I got into the ring, I was very confident of victory, and I knew all the rules of boxing. My friends called me Cassius Clay. I had that nickname before I threw my first punch in the ring. I was a hero before I stepped into the ring. I was a celebrated young boxer with enough promise to become the champion of South Suntreso.
Till the first punch landed on my face.

Friends, my memory was deleted. I forgot everything I knew about boxing. I was angry, hurt and sad at the same time. My opponent was a small boy who shouldn’t be doing this to me. How dare him! I was throwing punches left right centre, and wasn’t landing a single one, which angered me the more. My guard was down and my opponent was landing direct punches, on my face of all places.

And my silly friends were just standing by the ringside, giving me fans. “Cassius! Cassius! Cassius!”
One of them in his infinite wisdom run home to tell Auntie Ama, my mother, that if she did not step in to rescue her son, he could become a vegetable due to the ordeal a certain small boy was putting him through. She hurried there, stepped into the ring, rescued me and in the process ended my very bright boxing career that had just taken off. Indeed, the guy who ran the gym saw me later and mentioned that he thought I could be a good boxer because I could take a good beating. Yeah right.

Today I share a lesson to watch something that is wired in us so much that we often do not even notice it. I call it the lure of the old and familiar.
In boxing, you cannot fight like you do on the streets. You needed to keep your guard up, protect yourself, do not get angry among others. Ask any boxer, he/she will tell you. But when the first punch lands on your face, there is the tendency to forget everything you have been taught and get back into ‘street mode’. This then opens you up for further beating.

Likewise in life, we make progress to a certain stage and get to the point where we don’t know what is happening. It is like a waiting corridor between phases and we seem so lost, aimless and mot often, we return to the point we came from, because that is what we know, even though it may not be what is needed. It might be the ‘street’ in the world of boxing where that is what we are familiar with, but not what we need to be doing, because we have gone way beyond that.

When Jesus first called Simon, he said “I’ll make you fishers of men” but after Jesus’s death, Peter went back to fishing. In John 21v3, Peter said “I am going to fish.” In this season for Peter, he was unsure of the present and the future – yes, his master had been crucified but he had resurrected. And yet Peter is unsure what is to happen to them. Do they continue with business as usual? Or wait to hear from Jesus again? So, with all these uncertainties it was easy for him to go back to the familiar and old he had been called away from, ‘fishing’. There are times we are called from one season to another, but find ourselves lingering in the ‘in-between’ which is usually a waiting period and waiting is not easy. What is easy, is to return to that which we were moved from. The old and familiar irrespective of how unfruitful the old and familiar was. Beware of the lure of the old and familiar especially when it becomes an obstacle to the new and uncertain and moves you away from your purpose. So hold on, be still. Don’t go back to fishing for fish; for you no longer are a fisherman. You’ve been called to fish for men! You have been called unto a higher purpose!

Anyone who works out in a gym knows that the first days in a gym are the hardest. You feel pain in parts of your body you never knew existed. But the successful ones know that stopping because of the pain did not achieve any results. Fight through! Keep pushing. Keep going. You are moving from one phase to another and its challenges may throw you off balance but do not stop. You will get it. You will survive. You will succeed. You are built for this and even far more.

Do not return to the lure of the old and familiar.

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