"Preparing for the Test" by Randi Nelson

There is a big test coming up in March. I’ve had warning, so I can prepare. Preparation consists of going over beginning, basic material and tightening up sloppy timing and positioning. It means paying closer attention to terminology that hasn’t been so important to my current level, but is very important to the next level of experience/expertise that I hope to achieve. Yes, I’m talking about Armizare, the 600-year old western martial art that I practice with two-handed sword, dagger and basic wrestling moves. I’m a little worried; injury, travel and holiday activities have eaten into my skill set.

So I’m thrilled to be systematically reviewing basic principles and positions with my instructor because when the test comes, he won’t be able to coach me. This afternoon I was part of a demonstration on how important form can be. We showed that resistance to attack using poor form is futile. Then, demonstrating proper form, I was able to hold up against the full weight of my 6’1” instructor. Yet, even though I’ve developed an instinctively proper form, during our demonstration today, I recognized a slight alignment modification, a subtle nuance that enabled me to be even stronger with far less stress on my shoulders!

We’ve talked a lot at CitySalt church about keeping current with basic spiritual disciplines. A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Dusty spoke on forgiveness. It is so basic I almost checked out. But something he said made me groan. By so many standards, I can say that my “forgiveness form” is very good. Yet I had to acknowledge that over the holidays I was experiencing weakness. There’s a relationship in my life that requires constant practice not only of the basics, but also attention to more advanced nuances. My form is in need of adjustment in order to stay strong under the weight of something very hurtful. 

Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near…”. I’ve come to understand this doesn’t mean that God plays a cruel game of Hide and Seek, but rather that he wants to be coaching me through the basics, preparing me for “the tests” that life brings, especially the ones that are not announced in advance. If I have the basics practiced to the point of reflex, then I can work on the nuances that make me even more resistant to the enemy. John the Baptist admonished the people to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance”. Right now that means to me that I have to repent of some misaligned boundaries. And he said, “do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our father’. He’s telling me that while I may have cultivated some strong basic skills, my endurance can use some polishing.

Luke 3:4, 8 – Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight … Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, “we have Abraham as our father”.

Ephesians 6:17-18 - … and take … the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
Isaiah 57:1b-2 – For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace …”