Today’s scripture: Psalm 111 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen):

My family and I have been involved in martial arts for about six years. At first it started off as a fun and recreational activity that we could do together. But honestly, the more I studied the principles and philosophies, the more I began to adopt them into my own way of thinking. For example, one of the things I was taught was how to fall. My instructor warned me that there will come a time when an opponent is bigger, faster, and stronger than I am, and a fall will be inevitable. But falling doesn’t mean failure. He taught me how to protect myself and to position my body for the impact. He would spontaneously push me down while I was training in order to speed up my reflexes. At first I would panic and crash to the floor, but after a while, I was able to control my descent and protect my body.

But just when I thought I had it, the real test came. I had to learn to put that skill to use while in a match. I had been sparring for some time but I remember the first time I had to fight someone who had me outmatched in every way. She was taller, faster, stronger, and more advanced in her technique. I had no advantage over her at all. I was horribly intimidated and grew unsure of myself. She delivered a kick to my side; and before I knew it, I flailed about and slammed into the mat. You see, falling down in the dojo was much different than falling in the midst of a fight. But isn’t life just like that?

We learn ways to deal with tragedy or tests in our lives. We are often encouraged to “lean on the everlasting arms” or to “let go and let God.” We often even offer that guidance to others who seem to be dealing with a rough situation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good advice, but easier said than done. For some people, it’s pretty simple to do in the safety of trying but familiar situations; sort of like falling in the dojo. However, one day something will come along that outmatches you in every way, and a fall will be inevitable. But falling does not mean failure. We must learn to apply our faith during a fight. How do we protect ourselves while going down?  One thing is for sure, it will take practice and you will likely fall hard the first time, but that’s okay. The important thing is not to panic. Pick yourself up and try again. Sooner or later it will become reflexive.

You will automatically begin praising God when things look bleakest, instead of flailing about filled with worry and anxiety. You may notice yourself singing instead of crying, or studying scripture instead of studying the problem. Praising God is a mighty and amazing weapon that has yet to fail me. I often submerse myself in music, scripture, and dance in the darkest hours of my life. When I read Psalm 111, it seemed that I was not alone in using that weapon to uplift, encourage, and energize my spirit.

Funny thing, I faced that opponent many times. But eventually I learned how to handle the fall. I was no longer afraid. In the words of Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid, “Win, lose, no matter.” I discovered how to handle the fall so that it didn’t harm me; lesson learned. Oddly enough, I came close but never beat her in a match. But over time, she became more afraid of me. No matter how many times I fell, I always got back up. But that’s a lesson for another day.

Prayer for the day: Dear God, thank you for the gift of praise. Help us learn how to use this mighty weapon during times of trouble. Amen.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

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