Sep 4, 2007

He Came From Above

Well, yet another random series of thoughts that I am sharing for who knows what reason (again folks, my mind is always going and usually random). Also, I promise I am going somewhere with this that is not simply some random stories from my life. Soooooo…..

I was playing ultimate frisbee with some friends a week or two ago (and for the record, it has been at least three years since I’ve played ultimate and two years before that). Anyway, my point is that though I love this game, I just haven’t had much of a chance to play. Now, the vast majority of the time my athletics are centered around the martial arts with a decent amount of racquetball on the side. So, the hardest thing for me to remember with this game was that when I would receive the Frisbee, I was supposed to remain still. With both the martial arts and with racquetball, the point is continual motion and redirection. With ultimate the point is continual motion and redirection on the team level. However, on the individual level, the point is stop and start. Ok, so my point here is that I have been programmed for years to move as fluidly as possible and to keep moving. So, when I would catch the Frisbee it was hard to remember not to shoot around the person in front of me, create a decent opening, and then throw to the next person (as in so many other team sports – soccer, hockey… yea!). Ok, so after a while, I got sort of used to that, but then when I would catch it and someone was “on me” (ie: I knew I couldn’t go around and they were blocking me and “in my face”), my first “instinct” then switched to the martial arts. For years now, in a sport setting, if someone is close to me and “threatening” me, it has been a sparring session. So, I found myself catching the Frisbee, turning around, immediately seeing some guy really close to me, and then… the martial art response would want to kick-in to take the guy down, put them in an arm bar, or some other means of (temporarily) incapacitating him :)

Also, even though I haven’t been in a while, when I go ballroom dancing, it is very hard to remember some of the differences in movement. In the martial arts, the steps are (generally) very wide with long, but ballroom is very short. Thus, it is very hard to remember to keep my steps short so I don’t look like a total and complete idiot and end up dragging my partner instead of dancing with her (*cough cough*).

In the martial arts there exist two basic types or philosophies, generally known as hard and soft. The harder styles involve hard blocks and attacks, with power and simplicity at their core. The soft styles involve avoidance and redirection with fluidity and grace at their core. My base art is Shaolin Kempo Karate, which is a mixed soft / hard system. Thus, even though my natural “wiring” is toward the hard styles, I have to hold a balance with the two, especially where partners are concerned. When I am working with someone, I have to learn what “type” of person they are. Some people really like the hard styles, so with them I can block hard, punch hard, and just be rough. Some people really like the soft styles (especially the ladies :), so with them, I work on grace and fluidity (which, trust me, is an on-going process). Some people like to practice so that they are building up their body for a real-world scenario and some just want to learn the next set of moves. So, I must adjust (especially as an instructor) to the type they are comfortable with.

So by now you might be saying “what’s your point,” or “hmmm… I didn’t know that,” or you’ve just stopped reading out of boredom (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this and would be unknowingly illustrating the pointlessness and vanity of my rambling, which of course I wouldn’t realize because I wouldn’t know that you had stopped reading… and on I could go – again). Ok, here’s my point. We wear different hats. Now you’re saying, “huh?” Well, what I mean is that we are called to minister in whatever way God has called us. In order to do this, we will find ourselves in different situations, dealing with different people, in ways in which we have never before dealt. If we are the minister (and I mean this in terms of being the one ministering to someone else, not in terms of a specific office), we are called to adjust ourselves to the other person, situation, etc. To someone who is afraid, we must become comfort. To someone who is lacking motivation, we must become motivating (note I didn’t say “motivation”). We must have enough discernment so as to be able to see both the situation and the proper response (only in Christ, mind you), and then have the humility and love to do what we know needs to be done. We, as ministers, must be willing and able to set ourselves aside and look out for the other person’s benefit… above our own!!! This ought to apply and seep into every aspect of who we are and what we are doing. For the pastor, this means not taking your own agenda into churches, but seeing where the church is and using discernment to get the church where Christ wants it to go (not every church needs a gym, etc, etc). For the missionary (or is at least expressed in the most obvious way), this means contextualizing the Gospel for those of a different culture. It is not to abandon one’s own culture or to idolize another culture, but to recognize the differences and adjust the way we present the message accordingly (without losing the message!). For the counselor, this means taking extra care with those wounded and hurting. Some people can handle (and need) direct confrontation; some can’t handle it and need more grace. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Now to the real purpose of this note and the original reflection… thanks be to God that He has done just that for us! He condescended in the person of Christ, used human language, and human means, to communicate what He demands and how to please Him. Through the testimony of scripture we learn that God holds us accountable for the light (revelation) that we are given; no more, no less (Rom 1 for a small example). Thanks be to God that we are not held responsible for the full testimony (achieving perfection), but in Christ (and in Him alone) we are counted righteous. Once we are His children, He continues to be patient dealing with us according to our abilities (sometimes pushing us to the limit – which He knows). In other words, God does not just send us an email saying, “Here’s a list of all the things you need in order to be righteous, have them done by morning” (ha ha… my email server would crash under the “weight” of the sheer volume of that list). No, quite the contrary: instead, He, in His providence, sees what needs to be done in each of our lives and how much we can and can’t handle as individuals in Him. He knows that, were He to give us the entire list at once, we couldn’t handle it; we would shut down, and turn away in despair. So, instead of killing us all under the weight of what needs to be done (I speak in familiar colloquial terms here) He says “Ok, here’s the list on Aaron Hawk. Here are the top ten most pressing things that I want to accomplish in him. He can’t even handle all of these yet, but he can handle “X.”” By this I do not mean that it is necessarily a linear “hit list.” No, often it is multilateral, multi-dimensional, mulit-faceted, and a few other multi’s that I could throw in there (so much so, that our brains would explode to even consider the “multiness” of the working, much less the work itself). So, He is ever watching, adding, backing off, poking, prodding, and “just plain ole working” in order to transform us into the likeness of His son. Christ is our ultimate model in this; may we strive to be ever more like Him!

Isa 42:3 and Matt 12:20

Isaiah 42:3 3 "A bruised reed He will not break, And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.

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