When you go into battle, chances are you are going to face an injury or wounds of some type. My battle injuries have not come from war since I have never been able to serve our country in this manner. My battle scars come from sports.

In baseball, I’ve had “strawberries” from sliding into a base and jammed fingers from catching the ball wrong. I played second base and used my left leg to block the base from the runners stealing second. Mind you this was in the days of steel cleats, so my left legging was ripped to shreds and left calf remained scared from being in the way of many a base stealer.

In track, I ran the hurdles, high and low. We started with a cinder track, which meant every time I fell, I ended up picking small pieces of red clay from their embedded homes in my arms and legs. My left knee remained in a state of “need of repair” from constantly nicking the top of a hurdle as I sailed over them and sprinted down the track.

In football, I played tailback, offensive end, defensive end and was on the kickoff and return team. I have had a broken collar bone, broken cervical vertebrae, two holes drilled in my skull for traction (no comments please) a cracked knuckle, two broken teeth, sprained ankles, a hip pointer, and cuts, bruises, and abrasions most of which I can’t even remember.

But you know what? There is not one of these sports that I wouldn’t want to go back and play again. I loved all of them. Injuries and wounds are just part of the game. They are going to happen if you are on the field of play. The only ones who don’t get injured are those who are on the sidelines. Well, they may get injured if they stand in the way of someone playing, but for the most part, sideliners are healthy.

Life is that way, too. Any time you are trying to move ahead, anytime you are trying to do what is right, any time you take a risk, there is the chance that you will receive scars. Church life, work life, school life, and so on are going to be what we make of them. We can be sideliners and watch the world go by, never taking the time to make it better, or we can be players. But if we decide to play, we’d better expect that we will eventually get hurt. Then again, if you love what you’re doing the hurts won’t be that painful, and you’ll continue in spite of the pain.

I never changed the way I guarded second base. I never ran around a 39” high hurdle because I was afraid of hitting my knee or toppling to cinder track. Believe it or not, after I broke my collar bone, I ran another play. I remember in the huddle telling Billy Don, “I think I’ve hurt my shoulder, let someone else take the ball.” And if I could go back to those days knowing what I know now, I’d still play. Why? Because I loved the games.

We have a choice. We can go through life afraid, never getting into the game, sitting on the sideline, and not caring if we make a difference or not. Or we can run onto the field of play. Yes, we’re going to get injured from time to time. Someone is going to criticize us. Someone is going to get mad at us. Someone is going to treat us rudely. True, we may embarrass ourselves. Of course, we will make mistakes. And inevitably, we will probably fail many times. But if we love what we’re doing, these things will only make us stronger, leaving only minor scars of reminders that we can overcome what life throws at us.

I have a lump on my collar bone, two holes in the top of my head, and a few knuckles with arthritis. They are all reminders, not of pain, but of the things which I enjoyed doing in my life.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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