Don’t be alarmed by the title. Joe Louis’ storyline isn’t expected to last 15 rounds. This is probably my final musing on the great boxer, but I wasn’t quite finished with, “You can run but you can’t hide.” I also found a few other quotes he reportedly made which pack some potent punches. One I especially like is, “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.”
Whether the latter quote should be credited to Louis is debatable. A similar statement was documented as early as 1871 and attributed to Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a Prussian military strategist. Other notable figures, including Ike Eisenhower, have expressed that same line of thought.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson made a parallel quote in 1987 which was widely reported and often repeated. When asked about an opponent’s strategy that might prove troublesome, Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” People who earn their living between the ropes seem to have a penchant for catchy phrases. Mohammed Ali comes to mind and every professional wrestler who has slammed an opponent with a folding chair.
All of that introductory material is to let you know I have no idea who first expressed something that captured the essence of the quotes we’re perusing today. Their origins may go all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
After the first couple disobeyed God, they tried to hide among the trees He had made for their enjoyment. “Where are you?” God asked, although He already knew. Satan had convinced Adam and Eve that eating the one forbidden fruit would make them like the One who had created it. The plan seemed simple enough and had great appeal. Until they got hit.
Another example is found in the next generation. The apple apparently didn’t fall far from the tree. Cain was jealous of his brother, Able, and killed him, thinking his sin would not be discovered. When God asked Cain where Able was, he said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain thought he could hide. Until he got hit.
In Noah’s day the people were so corrupt God decided to destroy the whole earth and give mankind a fresh start. Noah, however, was a righteous man, so he and his family were spared by following God’s instructions. Building an enormous ark on dry land surely must have subjected him to taunts and ceaseless ridicule. I’ve often wondered how he fared within his own family.
“Seriously, Noah,” his wife may have asked, “do you really need to spend all your time building a monstrosity of a boat with no water in sight?”
The people went about living however they wanted. They thought everything was fine. Then rain began falling like never before and there were no hills left to climb. They followed a plan of their own choosing, which seemed to be working well. Until they got hit.
Jonah took a boat toward Tarsus instead of going to Nineveh as God directed. He didn’t like God’s plan, so he came up with his own, then ended up in the belly of a fish for three days and nights. Jonah tried to hide by running away. His plan seemed rather clever. Until he got hit.
I’ll close by mentioning Goliath, a giant Philistine warrior who seemed unstoppable. Yet a boy named David met him in battle and slung a rock which struck him between the eyes. Goliath wasn’t hiding from anyone, but maybe he should have been. He had a plan that looked solid. Until he got hit.
Some things never change, I suppose. Countless people, including myself, tend to make our plans and tailor them to suit our preferences. When life is going well, it’s especially easy to neglect seeking direction from above. It’s tempting to focus more on the here rather than the hereafter.
Christmas is barely over, its joyous celebration of that Bethlehem night still warming our hearts. But Easter is not far away, a time to reflect less on how Jesus came to earth than why. Even among Christians, our ideas about life and faith are quite varied. There are two things, however, perhaps we can all agree on.
You can run but you can’t hide. Everyone has a plan until they get hit.