Category Archives: asking God

What if turning the other cheek is actually an Aikido move?

For clarity, I’m not attempting to exegete Matthew 5:39. In fact, this is about a conversation I had with my mom. (Quick aside – and dangerously close to a cliché – but I’m gladdened to report that both my parents have become incredibly, almost supernaturally, smarter in the past couple years.) *grin* I was sharing with my mom about a difficult situation I’m in the middle of and she told me a story. Four years ago she was doing a very intensive personal growth seminar. One of the exercises involved practicing some martial arts moves. As she relayed her thoughts about responding to the situation I was in, she said, “What if turning the other cheek is actually an Aikido move?”

First off, I’d like to acknowledge that as one of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard from my mom. Second, something in my masculine heart screamed “YES!” at the idea. Aikido is a form of martial arts and the word aikido is generally translated as “the way of harmonious spirit.” There are many different forms of martial arts. Many of them practice actions which oppose an attacker directly. Blocking, punching faster, meeting a fist with an elbow, etc. Others, like Judo, focus on using an attacker’s momentum against them. The guiding principle of Aikido is unique in that avoiding the energy of the attack is balanced with not inflicting further harm upon the attacker.

For example, a Karate block might be designed to not only stop an incoming punch but also disable the attacking arm. The corresponding Judo move would try to use the energy of the incoming punch to throw the attacker to the ground. But in Aikido, the move would usually allow the energy of the attack to simply pass by. Not blocked, not redirected, just avoided. What is fascinating about this idea to me is that it feels so very like the Jesus I read about. When confronted with an attack, sometimes He met it head on by quoting scripture or telling a relevant story. Other times He simply walked away when it wasn’t time to fight. And I love the idea that perhaps in this passage, that’s what He’s trying to tell us.

As I prayed through my particular situation and asked for guidance, I felt strongly that the conversation with my mom had come up on purpose. Difficult situations have the potential to bring out the worst in people. I find that I normally default to continuing confrontation, aggressively pursuing the issue to resolution. Then I end up thinking about what I need to say in one of those sleepless nights. The kind where I mentally preach an awesome 2 a.m. sermon that convicts everyone else in the situation of their errors and ends happily for me with their repentance. But as I prayed into the situation, I began to feel God distancing me from the emotions of the conflict. Making it clear to me that my role in this wasn’t to be confrontational. Allowing me to step back and see that no one in the conflict was my enemy. At one point, addressing a few of my lingering concerns, I felt like God brought up the question, “How many of these last few areas that you feel strongly about are just you needing to be right?” And He was dead on. The last few things my flesh wanted to argue about were the places I felt wronged or misunderstood. I knew that I didn’t want to do further damage to anyone involved. But I needed this idea to help me step aside and let the conflict pass me by.

The whole process took a few painful weeks, but looking back, it feels incredibly valuable. Much like spiritual warfare, I don’t plan to pray that conflict won’t happen to me, I pray that my readiness and awareness will increase. That I will be able to recognize more quickly when attacks or negativity can simply be avoided, forgotten, let go. When they don’t even need to be addressed. The truth is that Jesus didn’t meet every attack head on – and I don’t need to either. Sometimes there are situations where someone isn’t even aware that they are attacking us. And we have the opportunity to simply turn the other cheek and allow the energy of the attack to pass us by unaffected without doing any further damage to the relationship.

 

asking for the order

In my old life as a sales trainer, the final day of class was full of motivation and encouragement. I would share with trainees how the average person buys something not the first or second or third time you ask them, but the fifth time! We’d talk about how if you don’t ask for the order, you usually don’t get it.

Last night I was meeting with my band of brothers and the topic of asking God came up. Recalling a past mission trip to Albania, a couple of us were struck at how often we were tempted to jump ahead with our plans. We’d pray about a date for the trip and hear a date. Then we’d be off on our merry way, running with all the plans and ideas our heads could think up. And then a few weeks or a few minutes later, someone would remember (or be prompted to remember) – and we’d go back and ask. “What’s next? What’s the next step, Lord?” And sometimes we’d hear something right away. Sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes we’d realize we were asking the wrong question. Then we’d ask, “What is the next question we should be asking?”

And the crazy thing about that system – it worked! All four trips to Albania were anointed – planned and executed alongside the Holy Spirit. I was struck this morning with just how often I forget that God wants me to ask Him. Not just once. All the time. That what He really desires is the relationship with me that comes from continually asking Him what’s next, constantly depending on Him to light my path.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

A few days ago, it occurred to me that in all the time I spend praying about Unbound, I tend to ask a lot about direction, about next steps, about who to call next. But I often forget to ask for what I really want – God to pour out His blessings on Unbound. So I asked for just that last Sunday night.

And the crazy part is – it worked! As I’m writing this on Wednesday, I’ve heard back from three different cold calls that I’ve been pursuing for month, booked a meeting Friday with a guy who networks a big group of local pastors, and scheduled two meetings with pastors of very large churches. Not to mention, the book has been officially available for two months and we’ve sold 250 copies. Praise God!

So what’s next for you? What is the question that you are seeking God about? What are you inquiring of him? What are the deep desires of your heart? Do you ever hesitate to ask Him for those? Why do you hesitate?

What are you going to ask Him for today?