The leather gave only slightly to the blow, as the weighted bag bobbled under her best uppercut. Pummeling with all her might, she drove her glove into the bag, groaning a little with each jab. Stabbing and striking, ducking and dodging — her every move exhausted her, but also strengthened her for the next fight.
Every morning, she met her trainer. Every morning, she honed her skill. Sometimes, her instructor stood nearby and sometimes he coached while steadying the bag. He challenged her, pushed her, angered her — but somehow always encouraged her.
She learned to pour her passion into every punch. Every disappointment, frustration, and humiliation propelled her glove deeper and further into the Everlast bag. When her anger drained and her head cleared, she stepped into the shower, ready once again to face her world.
I’d seen this movie before, but this time my mind raced with the similarities. “This is a depiction of that Greek word I just discovered,” I mused aloud. “This is hypōpiazō – ‘to disable an antagonist as a boxer. To beat black and blue.’” Yes, I could see it now. A boxer standing firm and hard against her opponent.
I turned back to Luke 18. There in the Scripture reference, the fighter was (surprisingly enough) a wiry, little widow lady. She had no money, no prestige, and no prominence. But she. Was. Feisty. She knew her legal rights and she demanded they be given to her.
Unfortunately, her deciding judge couldn’t care less. You know the type. He took bribes. He grew rich. His only concern was himself. Yet, morning by morning, she kept on knocking — standing persistently with her incessant and unending demand. She just wouldn’t take no for an answer.
So in time, the big bully caved in to the spirited little boxer. “Good grief!” he said. “Give her that protection, before she beats me black and blue (hypōpiazō)” (Luke 18:5).
And then Jesus spoke directly to me: “Hear what the unrighteous judge said” (Luke 18:6).
But had I heard? Had I caught the significance?
He wants me as a pugilist in prayer. Despite the sweat, determination and perseverance, I’m called to get in the ring. My Great Trainer awaits, desiring to build my confidence and guide me through the next round.
But how often to I show up for the fight? How often do I lay into my enemy of passivity to stay at him despite my exhaustion and fatigue? How often do I stick to the training when the desperate passes and the mundane routinely takes over? Do I target my passion onto my true dark opponent or am I angrily punching at my own family and co-workers?
“Lord, make me a pugilist in prayer. Strengthen me with Your power in my inner man that I may be able to fight the good fight of faith (Ephesians 3:16; 1 Timothy 6:12). Make me alert to see my true enemy, the one trying to devour both me and the ones I love (1 Peter 5:8). May I spend my passionate energy knocking out the works of the evil one, so I build up Your family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
“Would you bring the devotional?”
As I prepared, I was somewhat nervous, knowing that I would be in the midst of some “missionary greats” of the world. As that day in Prague approached, I had spent as much time in prayer as I had dealing with the passage.
I decided to use the Truths that the Father had spoken about our tongues and their tendency to ignite with Gehenna’s flame.
After the devotional, many references were made about our tongue as fire. As a group, we were cautious of our words. Sometimes in jest and sometimes seriously, the theme sparked many of our discussions.
And I watched my tongue most carefully. After all, I wanted to be able to have spoken with authority.
My family was coming, the house was a wreck, my throat was scratchy and I had jet lag.
And to top it off,
Mark was beginning to really irritate me.
Now remember, just weeks earlier, I had delivered a stirring devotional about a tongue with the fire of hell.
As I shifted my own tongue within my mouth, it sizzled just a bit and I could almost smell the smoke.
“I’d better keep my mouth shut.”
Yeah, that was the plan….
Instead – I incinerated him with a sudden outburst.
“Elijah was a man with a nature (Greek: “feelings or affections”) like ours…” James 5:17
Really? Did he have a problem with his tongue?
He was a spiritual giant, right?
Ummmm….maybe not –
Remember when the prophets of Baal couldn’t get any fire from heaven? Elijah was on hand with a flaming wit and a smoking sarcasm:
“Call a little louder – he is a god, after all. Maybe he’s off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he’s gotten involved in a project, or maybe he’s on vacation. You don’t suppose he’s overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?” (1 Kings 18:27 The Message)
I don’t know about you, but that pretty much describes me:
Yet, this is the very kind of man that is considered righteous enough for prayers that work.
Kinda gives me hope. What about you?