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Childhood reflections with a touch of grace: Flee from Alfred Lee

Though the story described below is factual, Alfred Lee is a fictional name used to protect the identity of any family members of the young man living in Madison. If your name happens to be Alfred Lee, it is strictly coincidental.

As a youngster, I was all about sports. Though I was legendarily awful at most of them. In the third grade, I caught more balls with my face than with my hands, while playing little league basketball, which was called "Bitty Basketball" back when the dinosaurs and I were young.

Since I never acquired a taste for leather, I moved on to baseball, which took me back to eating more leather. Those darn fly balls always did a number on me. To make matters more interesting, I wasn't exactly trained correctly in the fine art of catching and throwing. Because I was always left side dependent, I never fully developed my strength in my right side. So, I devised a system to help me overcome my plight.

At the first sound of a ball miraculously finding its way to my glove, I would quickly flip the ball to my right hand while ejecting the glove from my left hand, freeing it for throwing. That way, I could catch and throw using my strong arm. It looked ridiculous, but it worked.

One day, as I took the field during a little league baseball game, I noticed a familiar face in the crowd. This wasn't so unusual when you are from a town with only a few thousand people in it. However, the face I saw was unusual. It belonged to Alfred Lee, a young man known for mental instability, but not in a dangerous way.

Yet, something different was stirring in his mind on this bright Saturday morning. After signing autographs for those fans who adore great benchwarmers, I began walking the four blocks toward home. Shortly, I became aware that I was being followed by Alfred Lee, who was quite muscular and suddenly seemed far more frightening than I had ever remembered him.

As I turned around to steal a glance at him, he broke into a run towards me, mumbling something that didn't sound friendly. My left leg found a run of its own and the rest of my body went along for the ride. It's amazing how fast you can move when your life depends on it. It felt as if my feet weren't even touching the ground, but that was probably because fear was consuming my feelings at this point.

I managed to stay ahead of Alfred for two blocks and I was thankful that he had been a great distance away when this game of cat and mouse began, but he was closing fast as my legs became increasingly aware of their mortality.

Fortunately for me, I was nearing a friends house that I intended to make my safe harbor from Lee's raging storm.

I dove onto the front porch, screaming and knocking simultaneously. As the doorknob turned, I exerted the last of my energy shoving past the shocked soul who answered the door, finding safety at last.

When the coast was clear, I made my way home and reported all of my excitement to my parents, who then called the police. A few days later, I was back at the same friend's house, as Alfred Lee came into view as he walked along the road adjacent to their home.

He began apologizing, as best he could, for scaring me more than Stephen King novel ever could. His explanation for his actions turned spiritual, exploring the depths of the Old and New Testaments, as well as pondering deeply into some distant intellectual galaxy, boldly going where no one has gone before. When he was through talking, I still didn't know if he would ever find his way back to rational thought but at least he tried to ease my mind about his strange behavior.

After regaining some sense of time and space, I felt deeply sorry for Lee and his state of mind. Though I remained slightly fearful of him, I never had any more encounters with him and he soon left our community.

Everything in life teaches a lesson if we are listening. This scenario reminds me of the importance of properly discerning our battles. Some issues must be confronted head-on, or they only get worse. Others, like temptation, are best dealt with by taking flight, running for our lives until God brings His overcoming strength to bear on our situation.

Like my morning run with Alfred Lee, fleeing is often a show of great strength and understanding. Had I turned my featherweight body and braced for a potential fight with Lee, there is a 100 percent chance that I would have lost. It makes the same sense for an alcoholic to attempt hanging out with friends at the bar, but promising himself that he won't drink. At such an invitation, his best option is to "run, baby, run!"

The Bible supports me on this. We are told in 2 Timothy 2:22 that we should flee temptation. The Greek meaning for the word "flee" means ... flee, as in run for your life. So let's not make a simple plan complicated. Just run. Run from the stifling and blinding atmosphere that your brand of temptation brings. Run until you can breathe again and you will find that God will become your strength and fight your battle, if only you have the desire to run.

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