My hands gripped the steering wheel, as the initial shock of the impact subsided. I watched a small crowd of curious bystanders gather on the sidewalk and heard a faint hissing sound from somewhere underneath my car. I was in a foreign country and had just been T-boned.
I’d maneuvered down this narrow lane hundreds of times. In a city of over two million residents, I had routinely chosen this road — barely wide enough to accommodate my small car — as my daily route. This former rice paddy trail afforded direct access to the international school where my daughters attended. Because it was one-way, this street remained less congested than others, an important factor considering the myriads of cars tangled in knots at other intersections.
At least I wasn’t the one who had run the stop sign. I had the right of way and had been driving the speed limit. It wasn’t my fault.
Or so I assumed.
A week or so later, we got the news: although both drivers had insurance, I would be responsible for my own repairs. The reasoning? It was 50% my fault. Why? “If the foreigner had been in her home country where she belonged, this wouldn’t have happened.”
I confess I was incensed. In fact, I expended weeks of emotional energy demanding privileges that were not actually mine by law. After I reluctantly paid the damages and my anger finally subsided, I realized that mandates from my home country weren’t a given in this adopted country. Foreigners living abroad did not always have the same rights as local residents.
Over twenty years after this incident, I’ve discovered there is only one passport whose legalities transcend all nationalities. Regarding of locale, holders of this citizenship have standardized legal sanctions. (What a relief to this bullheaded Texan!) Although I am a “stranger and alien” of this world, God has given His children rights to a Kingdom from which we cannot be shaken (Hebrews 11:13; John 1:12; Hebrews 12:28).
When I lived abroad, I wanted to exercise privileges I did not possess. If my rights were so important to me then, why do I not take advantage of the heavenly benefits afforded to me now? Why do I spend so little time familiarizing myself with my Kingdom rights?
The feisty widow in Jesus’ prayer parable knew her rights. “Give me legal protection from my opponent,” she demanded (Luke 18:3). Do I know what mine are?
Explore with me just a few of our Kingdom rights as children of the Most High.
These and so many more rights are ours as we embrace our heavenly citizenship. In fact as we read through our Kingdom “constitution,” we find that “as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes!” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Why then do we squander so great a prerogative?
What rights will you claim today?
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.”