One Stripe!

I have five sons.  Three are blood; then I have a stepson named Corey and a son-in-law named Tyler.  All of them are Warriors—strong men, brave, and full of courage.

My oldest son Joe is a fighter.  I first learned this when he was in 9th grade.  He was on the Varsity wrestling team at the high school he went to.  His first match was against a senior from another school.  Leigh and I were in the bleachers and scared of what the senior was going to do to our son.

No Worries!  About two minutes into the first round, Joe picked his opponent up, bear-hugged him then slammed him to the ground.


As a matter of fact, you couldn’t see the other kid until Joe got off of him.  His team went crazy!!!!!!!  Mom and Dad went crazy.  And his opponent didn’t get up for about five minutes.

The next time I knew he was “different” was in 1996 when I was transferred back to Atlanta from North Carolina.  I moved down about five weeks before the family to begin work.  Leigh and I found a home, and finally it was time for everyone to be reunited.

Joe was 16 at the time.  When Joe jumped out of the car at our new home, he ran up to me, picked me up over his head, and started running up and down the driveway yelling, “Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!”

I knew there was something different about that boy . . .  :) 

In high school, Joe started fighting with MMA fighters.  I mean actual UFC fighters.  They would come over to the house, and I watch them out the window, fighting for hours on end.  And the funny thing was—they never got seriously hurt.  Sure there were scrapes and bruises, but it seemed like they didn’t hurt—like they didn’t feel pain like “regular” people feel.

So Joe’s always been a Warrior.

About a half a year ago, Joe started taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  He’s taking classes at a school that is run by the Gracie family—the founders of this style of fighting.  If you know anything about MMA, this is the top of the top style.

Every time I see Joe now, he is a little beat up.  Bruises, scrapes, twisted knees, etc.  He doesn’t complain—that’s not what Joe does.  But you can see the marks.  He says it’s one of the hardest thing’s he’s ever done.  It’s grueling.

A few weeks ago, Joe sent me this picture:

He has gone to the dojo three to four days a week for up to a couple of hours of fighting each day, and he just got his first stripe on his white belt.  DANG!

Here’s how the belts progress.  The amount of time it takes to achieve the rank of black belt varies between the individual but the average time frame is between 8 and 10 years with a consistent training schedule of 3 to 4 times per week.  Three to four times a week folks, of getting your butt whipped.  Joe’s told me that this is what he’s going for.

This is the Mt. Everest of the fighting world.  But Joe is dedicated.  I have no doubt that he will succeed.  He has more focus in his little finger than I do in my whole body.  I’m proud of my son!

But that’s not the point of this story.

Joe’s black belt will be temporal.  The day he goes to the grave, it’s gone, handed down to one of his kids.

I think of the effort he is putting into this.  How hard he trains.  How dedicated he is.

And I think about the rest of us.

There are two things that are eternal: Heaven and Hell.  Period!

1 Timothy 4:8 says,

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

I’ve been pursuing my relationship with God for years now.  I may have a purple belt by now.  Billy Graham and Mother Teresa are both 5th degree black belts.  I may never get my black belt.

But that’s okay.

I can get into heaven with a white belt.  It’s open to all.  And it just takes a little commitment.

Do you have yours?

If not, let me know and I’ll walk you through how to you get it!

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  1. AO

    Warrior indeed! What I know of the Mallon men is that they are salt of the earth and solid as a rock!

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