Had a conversation today about karate with my pal, Emily. (Two posts in a row she gets a mention! She is a rock star!) Anyway, she’s been taking karate for a year or so, now. I took it off and on over the years, never long enough to do much advancement. I did love it, though.
We were sharing some funny stories about involuntary blocking. Basically, what happens is that you learn different blocks, and you practice them over and over each week. You may eventually move on to sparring, where you get to employ these blocks with a partner. (Oh, I loved that. I mean, LOVED. THAT. I will hold no punches.) After you do this for a while, there will come a time when you experience involuntary blocking, purely reactionary. Emily shared her story with me, that she saw out of the corner of her eye that someone accidentally sent one of those big exercise balls flying in her direction. Without thinking, or even time to turn her head, she raised her arm in a knife-hand block, and deflected the ball like a ninja warrior she-queen.
We both laughed at her mad karate skills, and how surprising and funny it is when that happens. How weird it feels.
It’s like the memory of that block, repeated over and over and over– has been stored in the muscle. It bypasses the brain entirely. Well, that’s not technically true, but it feels that way. You skip the conscious effort- it’s involuntary.
So, end of that conversation, and we went on to other topics. That was our karate quota for the day.
But, there was something that lingered on afterward in my mind. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, till a little while ago. An unexpected application of this phenomena.
I got some bad news. A blow to my heart. And I found myself, scrambling, literally scrambling, for my Bible.
I wish that had been my first response for my whole life, but the truth is, I’ve only begun to consistently, DAILY, read my Bible this year. That’s sad, but it’s true. If you think less of me, then you should. Because you were giving me far too much credit. Even now, don’t think I’m super Christian because I read my Bible every day. The more I read, the less super I know I am. The more I read, the more I pray that God will keep me coming back tomorrow, because I know it’s not in ME to do that.
Anyway, so I’m grabbing for my Bible. And I was surprised at the suddenness of it, the utter need of God’s word right in my moment of fear and pain It was an involuntary response.
And it hit me then. Karate. When you practice something, it’s what your muscles will instinctively do.
When the emergency comes, when the threat comes, when the trial comes, your muscles will do what they’ve been trained to do. When someone throws a ball, your muscles practice the same motions you’ve been repeating.
Have you been training in prayer? Then your knees will instinctively hit the ground.
Have you been training in the Word? Then your hands instinctively reach for the Bible.
Have you been training to trust in God? Then you will instinctively claim Him sovereign in even this.
But, if you’ve been training in self-pity, or gossip, or pride, or procrastination, or any other thing than Him, then those are the things you will respond with. Those are the instincts that will flare to life in you, as the ball barrels down.
How vital then, for us to hide Him in our very muscles, not just our minds. We must practice Him, every day. Train ourselves to seek Him.
So when it really matters, when there are just seconds to respond, we will instinctively, naturally, unconsciously choose Him.
And the ball?
Doesn’t stand a chance.