The mixed martial arts scene has become a big deal around our house of late. I see it in the muay thai moves my son and I throw at each other in passing, and hear it in the discussion of Brazilian jujutsu classes he’s thinking of taking with a friend. From even the clothes that hang in my boys’ closets to their social gatherings on the UFC Fight Nights, there’s a whole new language being spoken around our home these days. I sometimes feel I need an interpreter just to keep up.
The two-word phrase “tap out” is one I hear more than any other. It refers to the breaking point in a physical contest of some sort, in which one opponent has such an advantage over the other that the latter is forced to give up before a bone snaps or his air is cut off completely. He taps the ground, himself, or his opponent to signal his surrender. I see the “tap out” phrase plastered on car windows when I’m out on the roads as well as across the t-shirts and shorts of enthusiasts sporting the increasingly popular brand of clothing and accessories by the same name.
Sadly, I also hear the concept in the conversations of people I meet on a daily basis, most of who know nothing about martial arts, kickboxing, armbars or choke holds, per se. Yet they are overwhelmed with the life situations they are dealing with in these difficult days. It’s hard enough to cope with problems when they arise one at a time, but increasingly people find that they’re being pummeled with one knock-out punch after another as they’re forced to deal with family health issues, relationship meltdowns, job losses and the resulting financial fiascos, all at the same time. A body can only absorb so many blows before it looks for an avenue of escape. And that’s when, spiritually as well as physically, we’re susceptible to the “tap out” message the devil whispers ever louder in our ears: “Give in. Give up. Get out. Surrender.“
And yet the Bible promises us that God never leaves us in difficult situations without giving us a way through them. My son and I warn one another in jest that we’ve come up with a new series of fighting moves that will leave the other knocked senseless on the floor should either of us be foolish enough to venture into the range of the other’s flying fists or kicking legs. Likewise in the spiritual realm we each have a “secret weapon” that we can unveil in a wrestling match with the devil. We just need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the power it contains.
He did so for me last weekend. Our worship leader at church was having a bad day. Perhaps there’s nothing more frustrating for a music minister than to enter the house of God on a Sunday morning and find that the sound system which was working perfectly when he last left it has now gone completely haywire. Such was the case last Sunday. Microphones squealed, the monitors buzzed, and the worship team members on one side of the platform couldn’t hear what those on the other side were doing. So our leader started his day battling frustration and defeat. The congregation likewise seemed to be listless, their minds on their individual problems instead of seeking the presence of God with unity of purpose. Songs were sung as if on auto-pilot, with no thought given to the power that can be found in passionate praise. Finally the worship leader stopped the service and got our attention. He told us that if we were looking to him to pump us up or to get for us what we needed from God, we were out of luck. Each of us needed to connect with Him ourselves, to tap in to worship.
Tap in! There it was! All the while that the devil was whispering his tap-out-and-get-out message, God was trying to speak his tap-in-and-win response! Tapping in to the power that lies in the presence of God within each of our spirits is the key to victory in each of the situations we face. But perhaps there is more to “tapping in” than we realize. In direct contrast to the cessation of all effort that the “tap out” message implies, tapping in means that we dig in as never before, refusing to quit our praise and pursuit of God until we’ve connected to Him somehow in worship. We read our Bibles until we hear His voice and understand His instructions on how to proceed in our life situations. We seek His face in our daily interactions with other people, loving them with all our hearts when their actions inspire that reaction in us, and even more when they don’t. We simply go for broke in our pursuit of God, like a fighter who realizes the end is near and unleashes a fury of final punches on his opponent before the bell signals the end of the final round. Clearly we are in that position as the end of time draws near. The signs of the times in the world around us as well as the spiritual battles we’re all facing signal that time is short. How sad if we allow the devil to convince us to tap out in defeat just in the closing seconds, when God is promising us that victory is clearly within our grasp!
“So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10 AMP, emphasis mine)
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