His silver head of hair seamlessly blended with his beard and mustache, framing his wrinkled face. He was only five foot three inches tall and weighed less than a hundred fifty pounds. He was not much larger than I was but there was one critical difference. He was a sixth-degree black belt, one of the senior instructors of the judo club where I trained, and I was his hapless opponent.
We began a session of practice sparring and he called upon me to challenge him. He had a well-deserved reputation of being particularly harsh on new students. As an eight-year old yellow belt, I perfectly fit that description. I bowed before him and as I raised my head, he quickly grabbed my gi (uniform). I reflexively stiffened my body, naively thinking this would stave off his advance.
“Why are you resisting me?”
“Because you are going to throw me!”
He laughed, “I’m going to do it anyway!” And with that, he dropped to his back, thrust his right leg into my belly, and proceeded to throw me over his supine body. Thump! I crumpled upon the padded mats.
“Get up! Try it again!”
My pride was bruised more than my body. I readied myself but reverted to my stiffened defense.
“When you make yourself stiff like that, you make it easy for your opponent to attack. You cannot defend yourself when you do this!”
I was allowing my fears to paralyze me and not listen to the wisdom my teacher was attempting to impart to me. I lost my focus.
Facing my fears.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:28-31 (ESV)
The disciples of Jesus all witnessed Him walking on the water while a storm was raging all around them. When they realized it was their Lord, the Apostle Peter spoke up and boldly asked Jesus to allow him to walk on the water. He was initially successful but Peter was distracted by the storm and Peter’s faith faltered and he began to sink.
I would never progress in my study of martial arts until I learned to face my fears. So too, in my spiritual walk with God, every moment is a spiritual battle with Satan. Jesus does not make the storms of life disappear, he leads us through them. Like Peter, if we allow our fears to overwhelm us and take our attention away from God, we will sink and fail. Only by listening to God’s voice and allowing Him to lead us will we be able to conquer our darkest fears. It does not matter if we are seeking to overcome unconfessed sins in our lives or dealing with pandemics, God will always see us through.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.