When you face trials, temptations, hardships, or even “death valley,” there are times when you win, and times when you fail. I know there are plenty that I have failed myself, and lessons that have been on repeat for years. Is it more than just failing in the moment, or is it the result of what you did (or did not do) before that moment came? When those spiritual battles come, the most important lesson to remember is: you fight like you train.
When I was training martial arts there was repetitiveness to the program. We drilled the same movements over and over so when the time came to apply it, it was second nature. A saying we regularly discussed in class was one from Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book Of Five Rings,
You fight like you train.
This saying got me thinking about how true this is in our walk with the Lord as well. You are always in a fight that is taking place behind the curtain of the physical realm. There are no guns, bombs, or tanks, but there are powers and principalities vying for control.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. -Eph 6:12
As my wife and I watched the new Wonder Woman this weekend one scene struck me, since I was already in the midst of writing this article. Diana was fighting Antiope during a practice, and she thought the battle was done, letting her guard down. Antiope struck back, and started shouting:
You let your guard down. You expect the battle to be fair. The battle will never be fair.
When you are in the midst of war, the enemy will attack you. Sometimes it will even be relentlessly. A private and a special forces both fight in the same war, they just see different fronts. Their training determines their ability to fight, and how well they will do. The enemy will attack the weaknesses you never thought you had.
Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity.” – Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (I have not yet read this book, but came across the quote the other day.)
What are you doing spiritually when everything is seemingly going “good?”
Are you developing a habit of prayer, meditation, and dwelling on the Lord?
Are you habituating yourself to rely on His life even when the seas are calm?
Are you practicing the disciplined pursuit of full maturity in Christ, while the “spiritual dojo” is empty?
How you train when the dojo is empty, when your opponent is friendly, and when the bag doesn’t fight back, will determine how you fight when the battle is raging in the field or the street.
The Finishing Move
The “kicker” in all this is that you really do no fighting at all. The most seasoned spiritual fighters know that the Lord does all the fighting.
It is a spiritual instinct to know when the battle is winding up, and you go straight to Him. You rely on His life to sustain you and to fight the battle for you.
Too often we think that the actual doing is what matters. We have to learn the lesson of not doing — of keeping quiet for Him. We have to learn that if God does not move, we dare not move. When we have learned this, then it is that He can safely send us forth to speak for Him. – Watchman Nee; Sit, Walk, Stand
These spiritual instincts grow with time and practice. More importantly the greatest way to fight comes from training in submission. Bruce Lee once said,
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Are you practicing the 10,000 kicks of:
- your own ability,
- your own strength,
- your own ambition,
- your own knowledge,
- or your own doctrines and dogmas?
Or are you practicing the “one kick” that matters, the finishing move: going straight to the Father to handle it for you?
Amateurs practice till they get it right; professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.
When I went to my first Jiu Jitsu tournament I won in the no-gi division, but I lost in the Gi division? Why? I won and lost, because of how I trained. I focused more energy and time towards no-gi, and it showed.
Spiritually we win or lose based on how we train.
Are you training yourself to trust the Lord, to believe that He will take care of it, no matter the earthly result? Or are you training yourself to rely on your own strength and ability?
Train yourself to fight by the rules of war found in Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.