Training for Reigning - 33 - Bert Rogers Chance

To START WITH I should tell you that Bert’s father and mother were saved and "in the meeting." And since the assembly with which they were identified was located in an area where Mr. Alex. Marshall had once laboured, they were known in town as "Marshallites." Of course it was a term of reproach. Bert had borne it since his early boyhood. He, too, was saved: yet he had never ceased to feel that sting of the nick-name, often wishing with all his soul that he could escape from it-and be more like other boys. Of this fact Satan was fully aware. With much pleasure he laid his plans to give Bert his chance, beginning the little-by-little tactics for which he is well known (2 Corinthians 2:11), seeking to harm the lad in his testimony for his Saviour.
At the time I have in mind, Bert was a tenth-grader in the local high school. He had never been very sharp in sports, chiefly because his father had been most diligent in seeking to help him to keep his Christian feet out of the world’s snares. But the truth is, Bert couldn’t see much harm in sports. He knew a lot of good arguments in favour of their usefulness in developing a good sound body. Besides, what was the difference in playing ball in the school yard and playing a few games for the school team?
His father had tried to explain to him that play-unorganized play-was something that bore God’s approval (Zechariah 8:5); but that organized play was sport-a type of activity that required the players to join a team and place themselves under the control of the coach and other officials. For a saved boy that meant becoming a member of an unequal partnership (2 Cor. 6:11-18), and taking himself away from the control of the Lord-a very dangerous thing, indeed. But Bert didn’t want to . . . and so couldn’t because he didn’t want to . . . see that it was nearly so bad as his father "imagined."
Now, as I said before, Satan was working quietly behind the scenes. Unhappily he began with Bert’s mother. He led her to think that her husband was too hard on the boy; and so she undertook secretly, to help Bert to gain the "freedom" she thought he ought to have.
The boy had always been good at pitching a fast ball. Hence when one of the seniors showed him a sports magazine, one day, giving detailed instructions for pitchers, covering everything from wind-up to delivery, Bert was delighted. He borrowed it and f airly devoured every word. He practiced the new ideas every spare moment and thus attracted the attention of the coach. After school, one afternoon, he called the boy over to throw a few fast ones to his batters. Several work-outs followed; finally Bert was asked to join the team as a spare pitcher. He was so excited he could scarcely contain himself. He ran most of the way home.
come at last! Naturally, he told his mother of his good fortune (as he thought it to be) but was careful to say nothing about it to his father . . . much to Satan’s satisfaction.
Bert practiced regularly.; but it was some time before his services were needed. Then the great day came. The team was journeying to a neighbouring town for a scheduled game and Bert was asked to report for duty. He was a big lad although younger than his team-mates. But the really important fact was that he was a child of God over whom the Heavenly Father was watching.
The school team easily defeated their rivals-which meant that Bert had to sit out the game. Great was his disappointment; but there was more to follow. Several of the best players, whom he had fairly idolized, got drunk after the game. And the bus ride home, in a sickening fog of smoke, ribald songs, filthy jestings, wakened the half frightened, disillusioned boy to a realization of the gravity of his mistake. Huddled in a seat, he spent the long miles homeward, thinking as he had never thought before. There in that bus he saw clear as daylight, for the first time, that he was really born again; that no matter how good he might become at baseball, he could never, never belong to that crowd. Back at home, utterly miserable, thoroughly repentant, he went straight to his waiting father and poured out the whole story of his folly. Together they knelt while Bert told it over again, with many tears, making confession to the Lord.
 "I see it all now," he explained afterwards. "I thought it was such a grand chance; but now I know that Satan had me in his snare. I’m so thankful the Lord hindered me from playing in that game. It made it easier for me to tell the coach that I wouldn’t start again."
Well, that’s the story: a sort of a parable, partly true, but of necessity, much disguised, so that I might not embarrass a certain Christian boy.
My purpose in telling it was to help you young folk to understand a little about Satan’s snares. Snares are things we get into, little by little as a rule, whenever, like the young man in Eccl. 11:9, we rely on our own judgment alone and follow our inclinations. (Notice Jeremiah 10:23 and Proverbs 3:5).
Snares generally look quite harmless . . . which should enable you to see why your elder brethren are afraid when young Christians ask, "Well, what’s the harm in it?" Because Satan usually hides his snares that way.
Furthermore, they are notoriously hard to get out of; and the farther in you go, the more difficult it is to escape. They are always harmful to our souls, hence they are a grief to our God.