“Fear not for I am with you…”
I teach a before-school and an after-school karate class at an elementary school near my dojo twice a week. This happens to be the school I attended for 5th and 6th grade, way back in the day, so I always experience a simple joy, and a hidden smile, whenever I step into that place. Halfway through the month, the kids in the karate program were going to present a simple demonstration of what they’ve been learning during an evening open house for the parents. So, we practiced the demo for a couple of weeks; the kindergarten – 2nd grade kids would demonstrate basic karate technique, and then the 3rd – 5th graders would show off the first half of their kata. After all of that, each kid would do something that both excited and frightened them: break a real, certified, wooden board.
The evening of the event was an unusually busy one. I left my youth classes at the dojo in the capable hands of three of my assistants. When I arrived at the elementary school after the three minute drive, I was stunned by the number of cars parked all around the school, clogging up the street. Inside, the crowd consisted of about 100+ parents, siblings, teachers, and friends, a lot more people than originally expected. Add this to the fact that none of my kids had ever done a demonstration, let alone broken a board, and you have a potent recipe for anxious, hyped-up, frenetic kids.
Along with our demo, other groups were set to share their singing skills, traditional Mexican dance skills, and a fun holiday skit or two. We would be the last group to do our thing, and we liked it that way ’cause, you know, save the best for last, and all. Well, when the group before us exited the gym staging-area to share their song with the spectators, my kids pretty much lost it. Some started running around as if being chased by killer bees. Others kept talking, talking, talking, walking, walking, walking, or fidgeting in place. A handful of them just couldn’t get enough to drink, and one or two stood there on the edge of tears, nervous beyond understanding.
I spoke calmly for several moments, hoping to get them to chill out and focus, but that didn’t work. Finally, I raised my voice. I spoke strongly and with firm conviction, and told them to stand on the line, feet together, hands to the side, mouths closed, eyes straight ahead, or they were out of the demo; that got their collective attention. Then, my next words to them got my attention. I said, not as loud, but just as strong:
“Listen to my voice and do exactly what I say.”
“Keep your eyes on me.”
“You can do this. I believe in you.”
“I’ve got you.”
Those unplanned words worked, and the kids settled down. Those unplanned words worked, and they spoke not only to the kids, but they spoke to me too, and I heard them as if He was saying them to me, speaking directly to my situation… Even now, I hear and feel those words.
What’s my situation? Well, in short, challenging. Since the jump, I’ve been pushing and pushing to build my business, and the progress on all fronts is slow, too slow, at least in my mind. Also, I haven’t been able to work on my novel(s) since October 2017 due in large part to technical issues… And there’s more, but in it all, He say, “I’ve got you…”
The cafeteria resounded with a multitude of echoing pops, pows, and cracks, and all boards were broken that night. I could feel their hearts soar, and their confidence explode as shaky fists smashed through those boards. I couldn’t have been more proud of them, not for breaking the boards, but for facing their fear and not letting it hold them back.
I have many boards to break in the coming days and weeks and months, but I know He’s saying to me, “Keep your eyes on me. You can do this. I’ve got you.”
He says the very same to you as well.