Everyone despises a bully. My first real encounter with one occurred early in the 7th grade. In those days, leaving elementary school for junior high school was a rite of passage. In the 6th grade, you were at the top of the food chain. In the 7th grade, you were demoted to the bottom of the food chain.
I was a short, scrawny, 7th grader; even the girls were taller than me. The bully in our class was a kid who I think had failed the seventh grade about three times. He was nearly six feet tall.
One day at PE, the three-time flunky was bullying a kid. No one dared intervene. I don’t know what came over me, but it was something akin to the Scott Farkas affair in A Christmas Story where Ralphie goes haywire when the kid with yellow eyes bullies him one time too many. I blurted out: “why don’t you just shut up, you fink!”
Suddenly, it was as if E. F. Hutton was about to offer investment advice. The crowded asphalt court was transmuted from a noisy cacophony to something akin to a silent monastery. The diminishing sound of two bouncing rubber balls on the asphalt was all that stirred the silence. Twenty-five 7th graders gawked with saucer eyes and mouths agape. The bully turned slowly around, glared at me, and softly but distinctly muttered: “today when school is over, you will die.” It was like a foreshadowing of the climactic confrontation between the emperor and Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: “. . . and now, young Skywalker . . . you will die.” Only I wasn’t a Jedi . . . I was a 7th grader . . . with no light saber.
For the last two periods of the school day, I was miserable. For a 7th grader, it’s difficult to think about getting your affairs in order. Let’s see . . . I bequeath my baseball glove to . . . .
In those days you couldn’t call your parents unless a nuclear bomb had been dropped on your school, and this situation was nowhere near DEFCON 1. I was dreading the final bell.
My dad worked third shift and usually picked me up from school on days I did not walk or ride my bike. My plan was to hang out in the hallways after school let out until I thought for sure Dad’s car would be waiting outside in the back parking lot. After waiting what I thought was long enough, I exited the building and turned the corner at the parking lot.
Dad was late . . . but the fink was not. He was lurking right around the corner with two of his cronies. With one hand he picked me up and held me upside down by my ankles. While I starred at his knees, like a judge pronouncing sentence I heard him declaim, “I’m going to kill you today. You are dead.” He sprinkled in a few colorful metaphors as well with my death sentence.
About that time, one of the school coaches happened around the corner and saw and heard the whole episode. He walked right up behind the fink, tapped him on the shoulder, and spoke three words, with firm emphasis on the first word: “You are dead!” He escorted the fink into the building and I never saw him again.
Satan is a bully. He and his sidekick, the world, like to bully Christians. He’s been on the playground longer than you have. He’s had lots of practice accusing the saints with a snarl. He’s sent people much stronger than you to the spiritual infirmary, or to the grave. But Satan is no match for your spiritual big brother, Jesus.
I like the way Martin Luther put it:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
And I like even better the way the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 16:20—
One day you will dance on Satan’s grave as God bruises the bully under your feet!