“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” – John 15:16
Pat Paschal, a classmate of mine from elementary school all the way through high school, had the misfortune of struggling with health issues most of us never experienced, having been stricken with polio as a small child, and suffering from severe asthma all his life. But you’d never know it, for he never complained or let it hold him back. In fact, maybe either because of it or in spite of it, by adolescence he had developed into a young man of great determination and an impressive work ethic.
No place was that determination and work ethic more noticeable than when he played high school football. He went all out, all the time. One year it was the last game of the season against our biggest rival who had this monster of a player named Borchardt who no other team had been able to stop. It so happened Pat was positioned just opposite him on the opening kickoff – David facing Goliath. But what happened after that was like two freight trains colliding head on at full throttle. Pat held nothing back, smashing into that huge guy with all he had. The crash could be heard all the way to the press box, the two men flying backward in the air landing on flat on their backs, both out cold.
It was my lifelong best friend Steve who over lunch not long ago brought this story to my attention. Steve had played next to Pat on that same kickoff squad, so had witnessed what happened first hand. Recalling that event led us both to reflect on our own lives, and to realize how often we had chosen to play it safe, unlike our friend Pat Paschal who seemed to hold nothing back, never shy about taking risks for the right causes.
There’s an old saying that a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. The same holds true for us, does it not? We may choose to spend our lives playing it safe, but is that the purpose for which God created us? “You did not choose me,” says Jesus, “but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
What if Pat Paschal had chosen to play it safe that night? Borchardt would have ruled the football field. Instead he took the risk, holding nothing back, and that bore fruit for the rest of the game – not to mention the fruit his example still bears all these years later.