pugilist

 

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.”

.

persistence

I query
I question
Problem looming, awkward and heavy
Obstacle mounting
Burdensome.

 

I puzzle
I ponder
Thoughts upturning, spilling and staining
Logic fleeting
Incomprehensible.

 

I brood
I bleed
Emotions surging, turbulent and shifting
Sentiment boiling
Irrepressable.

 

I lament
I languish
Character evanescent, evaporating and ephemeral
Intention inadequate
Hopeless.

 

A breath.

A wisp.

A vapor.

 

I stop
I squint
Dilemma hovering, damp and stagnant
Complication suffocating
Cumbersome.

 

I inspect
I introspect
Reflection contaminated, smeared and blackened
Rationale unstable
Inconsistent.

 

I glance
I glimspe
Passion despairing, angry and despondent
Agitation stirred
Apathetic.

 

I fix my eye
I focus
Fleshliness stilled, hushed and silenced
Resolve faltering
Tremulous.

 

A fragment.

A stanza.

A Voice.

 

I clutch
I clasp
Mountain diminished, overshadowed and relative
Perspective altered
Expanding.

 

I grasp
I grapple
Understanding broadened, swelling and spreading
Wisdom increasing
Persisting.

 

I hold
I hug
Hope returning, slowly and silently
Faith prevailing
Metamorphic.

 

I seize
I scuffle
Determination rebounding, steadily and progressively
Assurance restored
Expectant.

 

We pray although we know not how.
He intends to pass by, but we reach out
Grappling, wrestling and will not let go.
We pray because we can do no else.
He desires our depth, but we comprehend not
Arms flailing, hands clawing, heart pounding,
We pour out our souls and find it messy beyond belief.
Yet, our perseverance is accredited to us as faith.
Our propinquity with Him, regardless of our emotion —
Our presence proves our persistence.
And with this He is pleased.

 

Photography by Sara Jeng Grewar. Follow her on Instagram.