Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘training’

murderer

Moses, a baby marked out for death, instead grew up as royalty under the care of those who once sought to kill him.  He was given a stellar education, position, power, and all the pleasures of Pharaoh’s house.  Still, Moses never forgot that he had been born a Hebrew.  Nothing he gained from his adoptive Egyptian family was enough to cause him to forget who he was, who they were, or where he came from.

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. ~Exodus 2:11-12

Moses observes an act of injustice against a Hebrew slave.  All allegiance to Egypt disappears in an instant.  Moses chose to forsake all he’d been given by Egypt in order to side with his own people.  Hebrews 11:24 calls his alliance with God’s people “faith.”

Although Moses’ delivering his Hebrew brother from an abusive Egyptian foreshadows the great deliverance God would bring about through him later, it is clear that Moses’ impulsive act was actually a sinful result of righteous anger.  In an effort to stop abuse, Moses became an abuser – an not just an abuser, a murderous abuser.

It is  good that Moses grew up and matured.  It is good that Moses considered the burdens of God’s people.  It is good that Moses recognized evil and injustice.  It is good that Moses had righteous indignation over the mistreatment of his brother.  Moses likely had the right motives.  He had the right perspective.  He even had the right beliefs.  But Moses sinned.  He murdered a man.  He acted unjustly on his quest to bring about justice.  He is a prime example of doing the right thing in the wrong way.  His sin led to fear, hiding, forty years of delay, and isolation from the very purpose he was raised up to accomplish.

For a moment, let’s consider what might have been different if Moses hadn’t sinned in his anger on his mission for justice.  Is there anything Moses could have done aside from killing the abusive Egyptian man?

Perhaps he could have implored Pharaoh for justice on behalf of the Hebrews.  He could have had the abusive ruler dismissed.  Maybe he could have tried to use the position and power he had to bring about positive change in Egypt or prayed earnestly before taking such rash, irreversible action.  Would his innocence have stopped the mouth of his Hebrew accuser who asked, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?…”  rather than repenting when Moses confronted him?  Surely he would have had more credibility in the eyes of both his Egyptian counterparts as well as his Hebrew brothers and sisters.

I digress.  Who really knows what atrocities could have been avoided if Moses hadn’t sinned so grievously in this case.  All we know is that he did – and we do, too, at times.  What we do know is that Moses’ sin delayed him.  He spent forty years in the desert.  It caused a long period of isolation from everyone and everything he knew.  That’s what sin does – even to those who begin with righteous anger, right beliefs, right perspective, and right motives.  It drives us away from the people and places we are called to love and serve.  We end up in the wilderness at the the mercy of God alone…

And maybe, just maybe, that’s not such a bad place to be when you’ve got some long, hard lessons to learn about doing things God’s way.

God redeemed Moses in that wilderness.  He gave him a family and some necessary training.  When the time came, God restored Moses and brought him back to Egypt for the very purpose he’d raised him up there for – deliverance.

When I think about Moses the murderer, I think about myself – a great sinner with a greater God.  There’s no telling what good purposes I’ve missed and delayed because of my sinful reactions to other people’s sinful actions, but I know that the God I know is the same God Moses knew.  The God who preserved baby Moses at birth preserved me at birth.  The God who gave Moses severe, unique, and serious life circumstances as prerequisites to his calling is the same God who gave me severe, unique, and serious life circumstances as prerequisites to my calling.  The one who allowed Moses to sin greatly, be restored fully, and become a real help and encouragement to his people is the same God who allowed me to sin greatly, be restored fully, and, I pray one day, will allow me to become a real help and encouragement to his people.  The same God who gave Moses a beautiful, undeserved family out of the blue clear sky gave me a beautiful, undeserved family out of the blue clear sky.

How unworthy we are!  Moses and I, that is.  How good our God is to save us, grow us, forgive us, teach us, redeem us, and use us despite our great folly and faulty foundations!

Seeing Moses as a murderer is what led me to choose to study Exodus.  There is hope in the ministry for people who fail royally – even if we’re not royal-ty like Moses.  When I see Moses, I see hope – and rightly so – Moses the deliverer is a picture of Christ our deliverer.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Image

I recently attended two sporting events back to back.  Saturday night I spectated my first live MMA fight and Sunday morning I ran the Pittsburgh (half) marathon.  

As a newbie to the one and a veteran to the other, knowing I have a whole summer full of triathlons, drag races, tumbling with tots, and (hopefully) a whole slew of other sports to spectate stretching in front of me, I couldn’t  help but consider the athlete’s heart for a moment.  

What I’ve found true of athletes of every sport and every caliber is that we all start with the very same thing: drive.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that everything we do in life starts with drive; motivation; desire.  Some are naturally driven and others become inspired by the efforts and accomplishments of others.  I guess it’s usually a little of both.  Sometimes losing drives us to train harder and other times winning drives us to stay in it.  

What happens if losing removes our drive, though?  What if winning gets old and the trophies begin to lose their luster?  What do we do when the ones who inspire us cease to play the game?  Where do we start when drive and motivation are somehow absent?  How do we obtain this central force if we’ve not got it? 

For me, my love of the sport(s) has always been more than enough to motivate me to do any number of ridiculous things at 5 a.m.  When you love the sport, winning and losing makes no difference.  Ok, well, it makes some difference.  But it’s really about playing.  When you love the sport, motivational leaders and people who inspire are just that and nothing more.  Their encouragement and ability can be helpful, but the lack thereof is not detrimental to failure or success.  

Nevertheless, even when you love the sport, there are times when drive disappears, motivation slows, and desire wanes.  Where’s the aisle at Walmart for that?  Right.  

Sometimes we just need a break.  Sometimes we need a change.  Sometimes we find something better.  But sometimes we simply need to recognize our condition and remind ourselves why we want to play.  We need to remember the field we grew up in and take a few deep breaths of the hot summer air.  We’ve got to close our eyes, pretend we’re six years old, and think about what it felt like to catch that first fly ball.  Or, if you’re me, close your eyes, pretend you’re seventeen, and remember when the God of all Creation chose me when he was picking up teams.  

Life is not about winning or losing.  Chances are we’re gonna do a whole lot of both.  It’s not about depending on the efforts of the elite to carry us.  And it’s definitely not about giving up when we fail to find our focus for a few fading moments.  No.  I see life like a passionate, amateur athlete sees her sport.  Win, lose, or draw, it is about the sheer benefit of getting to play – not because I always love the standings in my life, but because I love the Giver of it.   

Put me in coach.  I’m ready to play…today.  

Read Full Post »

Lessons for the week:

1. How to take a punch.

2. How not to get hit.

Even if you’re not into boxing, these are good life lessons to consider.  Evasion trumps Excedrin every time in my book, so I tend to favor the latter.  None the less, we practiced both last week.

Two things stand out in my mind from our training sessions.  One is the kidney shot that felt like the end of my life, and the other is the sobering instruction on combination punches.

“Don’t get hit with the first punch.  Because it’s not gonna be just one…the second, third, and fourth are coming right behind it.  If you get hit with a three or four punch combination, you’re done.  Even getting hit with a few hay-makers spread throughout the duration of the fight is better than getting hit consecutively.  Successive punches are the most devastating.  You will fall.”

Before the words even finished leaving Coach’s mouth, the concept was resonating in my heart with a vengeance.  If there’s one lesson I’ve learned the hard way it is that it does not matter how strong you are – if you take one blow after another without recovery time – be it in life or in the ring – you are going down hard eventually.  No one can stand strong forever under that kind of attack.

I read Job for the better part of last year.  I studied his life in depth.  I desperately wanted to understand the reaction of a godly man to consecutive, devastating, combination blows to his life.  If there was ever a right reaction, Job’s was probably as close as it comes.  And I guess what it came down to in the end was the revelation of his utter inability to change or control anything – despite his diligence; despite his discipline; despite his strength; despite his goodness; despite his work; despite his earnestness; despite his prayers – despite all he had done right.   It all came down to dependence upon that which he could not see, hear, or, for quite a time, even find at all.  That’s one way to eliminate a God complex now isn’t it?  Right.

Perhaps boxing is the same.  I can’t say for sure.  I’ve never been bloody and beaten inside the ring yet.  But I have in life.  So, perhaps, in the end, when you’re spent but still with several rounds to go, perhaps that’s when you learn to depend on someone outside yourself.  Maybe that’s when all the voices stop, all the second guessing subsides, all the questions cease to matter, and you finally begin to truly hear the only one who’s really in your corner anyway.  Maybe that’s when real trust is born.

Ideally, don’t get hit with the first punch.  Practically, train by taking some I-feel-like-I-just-got-hit-by-a-truck taps from your trainer.  Realistically, learn who is really in your corner and how to trust him even when life’s devastating combinations have made you blind, deaf, and dumb to everything you thought you knew.  Perhaps that is where he is truly found.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
    yet I will argue my ways to his face. ~Job 13:15

Read Full Post »

Image

“Balance.  Position.  Timing.  Boxing comes down to those three things.  If you get ’em, it won’t matter how much bigger or stronger your opponent is.”  

“Life comes down to those three things, Coach.  Maybe if I can learn them here, I can apply them there.”

Balance.  Analytical thinkers like me have a lot of trouble with this.  We like to lean to the extreme end.  The black end or the white end feels much more natural than the mushy grey middle.  But, when you lean, you fall.  Life is a tightrope and each of us must hold the pole.  If we do not compensate equally on both sides, every move will prove disastrous.  

 Position.  I’m often either so close that I cannot protect myself or so far away that I cannot make any kind of decent impact.  I stand up when I should be crouching down.  I crouch down when I should be standing up.  I punch when I should be blocking.  I block when I should be punching.  I’m stiff when I should be loose.  I’m loose when I should be stiff.  I think I need to learn how to dance before I learn how to fight.  Proper position is imperative throughout the duration of every fight.  

Timing.  Oh, timing, how you elude me!  Timing is everything.  That’s why I got nothin’.  Too fast and overzealous and I am a wrecking ball.  Too slow and unengaged and I become another statistic who missed her best shot.  Both leave me full of regret.  Until I live, eat, and breathe training – be it with boxing or brotherly love – I will not possess the art of proper timing.  

What I’m really grasping at in all of these is precision.  I want to hit the mark.  No wavering.  No leaning.  No falling.  No missing.  No fouls.  No prematurity.  No hesitation.  Precision is what I pine for – and that takes pain, patience, and potential.  

 “You’re killing me!” 

“I’m training you.”

How many times I have cried out these words bantering my Maker!  How many times he has calmly answered the very same way.  

Self-pity is not part of the protocol when one is on the roster to learn practical precision.  No amount of pain or impatience will arrest the progress of the person in whom God sees the potential for perfection.  

Balance.  Position.  Timing.  The life of a Christian is rooted in these three things.  If you get ’em, you will overcome the opposition regardless of the difficulties.  Be precise.

Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. ~Ecclesiastes 7:18b

Read Full Post »

Image

I survived my first week of training.  I lost a few pounds and gained a few insights.  I have to admit, throwing punches at a real person takes some getting used to.  It’s one thing when you’ve got beef.  It’s another when you’ve got nothing but appreciation, admiration, and respect.  It is not natural.  It’s hard to get in the right frame of mind.  You have to focus on something other than that human being.  You have to focus on your mission; your position; your goal.  

“Frankie liked to say that boxing was an unnatural act, that everything in boxing is backwards. Sometimes best way to deliver punches is step back. But step back too far, you ain’t fighting at all.” ~Eddie Scrap On Dupris in Million Dollar Baby

You know what is even more unnatural?  Being jabbed at.  How about being jabbed at by a dude twice your size, ten times your strength; skill; speed; knowledge; precision and who possesses all the skill and experience you have not even begun to learn yet.  

“I wanna run away from you, Coach!  I’m scared!  You’re stalking me down!  I got nothin’!”

“You do not run!  Never run.  You wanna fight?  Fight!  You wanna run?  Get out on the road.  You might as well give it up.”

For a wanna-be fighter who has an extremely poor defense and only knows how to play offense when when the opponent is a stationary, lifeless bag, I needed to hear that.  For a girl who has spent her entire life running – both literally and figuratively – Coach has something here that I desperately need to learn.  

Never run.  Fight.

I love to run.  Running is my favorite activity when I’m happy, sad, mad, or ready to implode.  Running gives me clarity.  It relieves stress.  It gives me peace and time to meet with my Maker; to pray; to decompress; to re-prioritize.  

Running does other things, too, though.  Running avoids.  Running ignores.  Running fails to deal with what’s still waiting at the finish line.  Running makes a kind of pseudo peace even though it knows there’s a stalker standing inside the ring who must eventually be dealt with.  It’s an extremely poor defense when you are confined to a ring surrounded by fire.

The Lord is using my very amateur attempts to learn how to box to teach me what to do when running is not the answer.  

Running may save me from pain in the moment sometimes, but it will never keep me from feeling the pain in proximity to the problem day in and day out.  I’m going to keep getting burned on those flaming ropes if I continue trying to run from the fight.  The truth is, I’m going to need some offense.  Poor defense is not sufficient to win the match of life.  

Our culture has all but lost its ability and desire to debate, discuss, dissect, and deal well with its opponents.  Instead, we run.  We hide in flaming corners getting burned by our own foolish defense.  We must fight for the truth by staying in it no matter how small of an underdog we seem to be.  

Running has its place, but so does fighting.  You will not fight if you keep running loosely lodged in you back pocket.  You will not run if you are a real fighter.    When you begin to realize that the shame of deserting is far worse than the pain of getting beat up, you cease to run and you learn to fight to the very end.  

I want to be a real fighter.  I want to be able to run without needing to.  I want to learn how to focus so fully on my mission; my goal; my God that it no longer matters how I feel about my opponent.  Whether I love, hate, fear, or have neutrality towards him, I want to be able to lay it down and strike at the heart of that fighter every single time.  Then, I will be of use to my manager.  Then I will not need to run no matter how badly I am beaten.  Then I will have the heart of a true fighter.  

“In the clearing stands a boxer 
And a fighter by his trade 
And he carries the reminders 
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
“I am leaving, I am leaving” 
But the fighter still remains. ~Simon and Garfunkel

 

 

Read Full Post »

Image

I’ve had exactly one lesson.  Aside from a couple years of kickboxing, shadowboxing, and beating my belligerence out on the heavy bag, I do not know the first thing about boxing.  I’ve been in four street fights – only two of which I was the aggressor.  This is not the same.  I am hardly qualified to teach anyone anything about boxing.  Nevertheless, here is what I learned on day one.

My stance is wrong.  My angle of impact is wrong.  My position is wrong.  I do not protect myself properly.  My balance is off, and, if I enter a fight uncorrected, it will hurt.  A lot.  Truth be told, it will hurt anyway.  Like teach told me – boxing hurts.  

You know what he didn’t tell me though?  He didn’t say, “Your stance is wrong.”  He said, “Stand like this.  Good!”  He didn’t say, “Your angle is wrong.”  He said, “Press in and hold your punch.  Can you feel how your angle corrected?”  He didn’t say, “Your position is wrong.”  He said, “Turn your body away from me…like this.  Don’t leave yourself wide open like that.  Better!”  He didn’t say, “You’re gonna know it if you keep trying to protect yourself like that.”  He said, “Hold your protecting fist flush against your face.  It will hurt less if there is contact.”  He did not laugh when my wretched excuse for balance left me lying on the floor.   He gently reminded me how important balance is. He did not allow me to continue throwing the wrong kind of punches when he saw that I was bleeding. He wiped my blood up off the floor and showed me something else. 

I cannot imagine how utterly ridiculous I looked to this guy (and my husband who sat watching the whole sitcom.)  But I do believe I learned more about life – particularly the Christian life – than I have in a long time.

Teach said two things that I doubt I will find myself soon forgetting.  He said, “Boxing is a game of windows.  You have a split second to make your move and then the window closes.”  He also said, “Boxing is war.  It may not seem like it to those who think it is just a sport, but when you are in that ring, you feel it.  It is war.”

Life is a game of windows.  We have momentary, fleeting opportunities to get this thing right.  The Christian life is war.  Those who do not see it as such are not engaged.  And we who are engaged have a monumental choice when it comes to teaching the privates entering boot camp how to fight fair.  Boxing is offensive and defensive at the same time.  So is the Christian life.  We can discourage and destroy others with heavy-handed defense or we can train and encourage them so patiently and respectfully that it makes even our offensive moves kind.  

That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.  That’s the kind of trainer I want to become.  I imagine I will have a lot more blood on my face and hands even if I do it the right way.  I might even look like a big disgrace at times.  But the war is worthy of my all.  I refuse to stop fighting.  I just have to better learn how.  Quitting is not an option in war time.  I will persevere.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~Psalm 32:8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcCaTXcwh9w

 

Read Full Post »