While mother and daddy were in seminary, the family budget was tight. So frugality was a word we lived by.
Early on I became familiar with thrift shops and the exciting bargain basement at the Kansas City's Macy's department store.
One time, Mother bought an old sofa at a thrift store. The couch looked terrible but had possibilities. It needed new fabric. The money wasn't there to have it professionally upholstered so that's when Mother enrolled in the upholstery class that was free at the downtown YMCA in Kansas City.
So once a week on Thursdays, Mother packed a sack lunch and Susie and I would accompany her to the downtown YMCA. We'd entertain ourselves during Mother's class. The enormous gym where the class met made it easy for many activities to run concurrently. The upholstery class was in a corner. Then there were people playing dominoes in one corner and in another, elderly men were playing shuffle board on the painted pattern on the concrete.
But the most intriguing activity took place in the middle of the gym. That's where the boxing ring was erected. It was a place for young hopeful boxers to train and workout with other boxers. When there was no boxing action, Susie and I would walk over to the ring, and climb up into the ring. The gym looked huge from there! We would walk around a little and fall against the ropes just to experience the "bounce back."
Then we would hear the commotion and out of metal swinging doors on the far side of the gym, the boxers would come in with a frenzy of activity. That was our cue to get out quick. We would jump down and run back to the corner where Mother and the rest of the class were tapping away with upholstery mallets.
Then we watched the boxing show from the safety of the upholstery class. All the boxers would warm up, going through the boxing motions, jabbing at nothing, dodging from nothing and punching at nothing. Sometimes they punched at make believe things for 15 minutes. Even though they had no opponent, they were dead serous — just like in the middle of a real match. What good did that do?
Now, the couch that my mother reupholstered is old and sits in my living room. It reminds me of boxers. Yet, when I think of those boxers, I think of my spiritual life and how I have at times pranced around and wasted good time and energy on things that don't matter. Sometimes I have capitalized on activities or projects that have made no difference. I participated just to say I participated and in the end, really nothing worthwhile came from it. The point is that many times I have spent my best efforts on things that were just not worth it.
Paul warned us against that. He said, "I do not fight like a man beating the air." (1 Cor. 9:26) Paul meant that he didn't waste his time on things that did not count. It is better to spend our time on things that count in the kingdom of God.
Those boxers in training did spend time on activities that counted for something — they were training for the big event. Yet, I don't want to come to the end of my life and realize that I have spent all my energy "beating the air." I am in training now and must use my best energies on activities that further the kingdom of God — doing good, sharing and telling the good news of the Gospel because the really big event maybe sooner than we think.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: