TITLE: Gotta Have Faith (Part 1 ) updated 12/22/15
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This might surprise you, but having faith in Christ is not about your own effort. Instead, it’s about one hundred percent relaxation in Christ.
God revealed this faith fundamental to me through the aikido martial art.
Aikido differs from other types of self-defense by its focus on redirecting an opponent’s attack rather than forcefully repelling a challenger. I was intrigued by the fluidity of this particular martial art, so I studied it at New Hope Christian Fellowship Aikido in Honolulu.
One aikido concept that I learned was “trusting while improving,” which meant to maintain a relaxed physical state with an alert mind. This tranquil state results in maximum strength. For example, if you resist someone who tries to move your arm, it can be easily moved. But if you imagine that a force of nature like a raging river is flowing through your arm, it becomes phenomenally difficult to move.
Similarly, when we trust in God instead of our own strength, His omnipotent power is revealed. God is glorified because He miraculously accomplishes what we are not able to do.
For instance, in Judges 7 when the Israelites faced the Midianites in battle, God told the prophet Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” Then God instructed Gideon to reduce the number of fighting men from 32,000 to 300. Some Bible scholars believe that the Midianite army consisted of approximately 15,000 men. Therefore, God reduced Gideon’s army from more than twice the size of the Midianite army to 2% of the army. When the 300 men reached the edge of the Midianite camp, they blew trumpets, broke jars and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.” The result: God caused the Midianite enemies to turn on each other with their swords and flee.
On the other hand, when we try to take control by force in aikido, we can be thrown farther and faster. I wonder if this concept can be applied to the story of the Egyptians when they aggressively pursued Moses and the Israelites into the Red Sea, which God had parted for the Israelites’ escape. After the Israelites were safely on the opposite shore, God allowed the waters to return, sweeping the Egyptians into the sea (Exodus 14).
Part of my aikido training involved being “tested” by another student, which meant that he tried to forcefully move me to see whether I was in a “trusting while improving” state. I took great pleasure in being “tested” because I shocked the muscular men in class when they couldn’t physically move me no matter how hard they tried.
One test was to have two men lift you off the floor from a standing position by your arms. When I resisted two burly men’s efforts to lift me off the ground, they instantly and effortlessly threw me up, like I was a jet rocket.
But when I was totally relaxed, they couldn’t lift me even though their bodies trembled from exertion, they broke a sweat, and their faces turned burgundy red. Amazingly, I didn’t feel any tension; I was completely relaxed. In fact, I giggled because the men tried with all their might to lift me, but they couldn’t! They were flabbergasted at the astonishing difference in strength and baffled at how a 5’2” petite woman could accomplish this feat. The men agreed, “We have not experienced this dramatic a difference in strength with anyone else.”
Immediately, I related this miraculous outcome to Isaiah 40:31 about hoping in God and receiving His phenomenal strength: “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I acknowledge that you don’t have to believe in God to become immovable. God’s principles apply to all of us—He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mathew 5:45).
The aikido enigma of being totally relaxed to achieve maximum strength is like the Paradox of Christ: If you want to be great, be a servant (Matthew 23:11). If you want to overcome your enemies, be kind to them (Proverbs 25:21-22). If you want to be secure, don't trust in people or things. Instead, put your trust in Him (Psalm 20:7, Jeremiah 17-5-12). Even though you may cry out, “To hell with you, Jesus.” He still cries back with His life, “To heaven with you!” Of greatest wonder in the Paradox of Christ is that His plan to save us meant that mankind had to kill Him. Christ bore an unwarranted death penalty as payment for our sins so that we can enjoy undeserved forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Christ, though He was rich for our sake, became poor so that through His poverty we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ suffered the death that was ours, so that we can receive the eternal life that is His.
It is only through “testing” that our true condition is revealed. There were situations when I thought I was in a state of “trusting while improving;” but when “tested,” I easily toppled. One aikido test was to sit on the floor with my feet tucked under my buttocks. I was “tested” in this position by a light touch on the shoulder. The moment I was touched, I rolled over like a tumbleweed in the wind, humph.
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