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Heavyweight Help

My friend needed courage. Could a prizefighter knock out her fear?

Laura, my friend, confided in me. She was, she said, in a predicament.

“The simple fact,” she told me, “is that I am a coward. Most of my life I have been protected and felt secure. But now, suddenly, my mother and father have been taken from me by death. I am engaged to marry a young man but, although I love him dearly, I am afraid to marry. I feel afraid of life, afraid to face it, afraid of what it will do to me—most of all, I am afraid of death. How can I find help?”

I tried to help the girl, the words seemed forced and unreal. But presently an idea occurred to me. That same afternoon I was scheduled to speak on a national broadcast presented by Guideposts. I knew that some of the other speakers were men of real inspiration, and so I asked my frightened friend to listen in, sure that she would find the answer to her problem.

But as the broadcast got under way, the speakers seemed to me to be talking on every other subject in the world except on the conquest of fear. I was feeling quite downhearted, when suddenly a giant of a man was called to the microphone. He was Gene Tunney, undefeated heavyweight champion of the world.

“People often ask me if I have ever been afraid,” he began. “I knew what fear was every time I entered the ring. One night I shall never forget. I was sound asleep and I woke up in the dark wondering what was wrong with my bed. It was shaking like a 1910 Ford. Then I suddenly realized that it wasn’t the bed shaking at all. It was I who was shaking. I was trembling all over with fear. That was the night before my first meeting with Jack Dempsey, and even in my dreams I was thinking of what he was going to do to me the next day. Courage?…It is not being fearless, it is finding the strength from God to do what you have to do—whether you are afraid or not.”

My friend Laura still believes I put Gene up to it. But what does it matter? He gave her the answer—and the fact that a prize fighter was not afraid to believe in God sent her back to the faith of her childhood. Her married life has been very happy.

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