As blood exited my nose, noise from a 100 kids entered my ears. My face was smashed up against the grass and a meaty leg covered in 501 Levi’s, a strong arm clamped about my neck. I didn’t have much control over my life at this point, so the entire universe paused while thought, “How in the world did I get here?” I went back in time 24 hours (mentally).

I wasn’t paying attention at the hair cut place which led to unfortunate results: I got a buzz. I was in 7th grade, and NO ONE HAD BUZZES. One Thousand Horrors had visited themselves upon me as I realized my hair wouldn’t grow out before I went to school the next day. Driven by desperation, I found a hat that would camouflage the careless hair cut. The baseball cap belonged to Gary.

Gary was my best friend. He was a tough dude: lots of older brothers, lots of fights, and in those days, plenty of temper. At school, he knew exactly why I was wearing his hat, so he asked for it back. I laughed. He laughed. Then he demanded. I could feel it in my chest, a LINE was about to be crossed. I denied him. Dudes with tempers don’t like their demands being being denied. Anger erupted. Only words were exchanged on the black top, the real fight would happened after school in the park. I threw his hat at his feet and stormed away.

After school, I walked into centennial park at a sloth’s pace. I promise you, a 100 kids were there to watch the fight between the most popular kid and his best friend. It didn’t last long, he faked a few punches, and then I JUST STOOD THERE when the real one came. Landed right in the middle of my face. Next thing I knew I was in a headlock and on the ground. Blood and grass and denim. A leg, a neck, an arm.

DO YOU GIVE UP? Gary screamed. YEAAHH, I muffled. He let go, we walked away from the crowd. We both apologized. He went to my house and I made quesadillas. Not a single letter of this story is untrue or exaggerated.

I learned a ton that night, as I reviewed again what happened. I resisted the temptation to move along and forget it ever happened. I knew exactly when I crossed the line, I pushed Gary over the edge from rational thought to anger. Pausing was ABNORMAL: I was hurt, ashamed, embarrassed. The normal response would be repress or regret or rage or revenge. . . or something else equally self destructive.

The GREAT UNEXPECTED will happen in your life–it may not be as literal as a punch in the face–but God is still right there wanting to teach us through our experiences. When IT happens and HE speaks, you don’t want to miss it. you can’t afford to. If you miss it, you’ll have to repeat till you get it.

In great JOY, we tend to forget God’s provision.
In great PAIN, we tend to forget God’s protection.
In-between joy and pain, in the comfortable rhythms of life, we tend to forget God’s presence.

None of these are acceptable. God, open my eyes and ears that I may see what you are doing.