Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Getting Back To Base

Part Three In The Spiritual Warfare Series

Without a doubt baseball is my all time favorite sport, but a very very close second is wrestling.  I'm not talking about "rasslin'" WWE style, but collegiate style wrestling.  It is high drama: two excellently conditioned athletes going at it mano a mano.  There's no one to pick up your slack, no one to cover your mistakes - just you against your adversary one on one with a whole lot of people screaming at you, telling you what to do!

Base Position
One of my best friends in high school was an excellent wrestler, and my school had a really good team.  As a result, our wrestling matches often had better attendance than our basketball games.

There was a whole series of traditions that surrounded our matches, including the "We Will Rock You" rhythm deafeningly beaten out on the gymnasium bleachers whenever one of our guys put one of theirs on his back.  It was even reported that there was a sign on the ceiling that said, "If you can read this you're pinned."  It was a lot of fun.  For us, anyway.

Wrestling is an ancient sport.  It has been around for thousands of years.  So it is no surprise that wrestling is used in the Bible as a metaphor for spiritual warfare.  Paul wrote, " For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  That being said, I would like to take a moment and point to a way that wrestling does mirror spiritual warfare.

The bottom wrestler is moving back to his base
There are many techniques that are important to wrestling, but one of the most important is the ability to get back to base.

Base position is a very stable defensive posture where a wrestler's feet, knees, and hands (or elbows) are firmly on the mat with his center of gravity as low as possible.  It puts him in a strong position to frustrate his opponent's attempts to control him and gives him a stable platform from which to escape or take dominant position from the other wrestler.

Every wrestler, regardless of his skill level, will eventually find himself on the bottom.  To be successful, he must learn to defend himself and to move from a defensive posture to an offensive one.

Going for the pin
One of the most frustrating things for a wrestler to experience is to be trapped flat on the mat by a skillful wrestler.  The top wrestler can leisurely have his way with him  while the bottom wrestler gets tireder and tireder and more and more frustrated.  The more he struggles the more he opens himself up to yet one more of his opponent's fiendish methods to keep him right where he wants him.  If a wrestler is not wise when he is in that position he will give his opponent the leverage that he needs to flip him over and pin him.

Because there are so many levers for the top wrestler to use, it is very important for the bottom wrestler to not only get back to his base quickly, but to know how to do it correctly.

One mistake that some wrestlers make is to try to lift their opponent's full weight when coming back to their base.  They rely on their own strength to accomplish the task instead of wisely using the protection and leverage that the mat offers them to get it done.  As a result, they have to expend more physical energy than is necessary and they tire quickly.  They also have to concentrate harder to force their body to accomplish this difficult task.  That means that they lose concentration on their positioning, which can lead them to open themselves up to attack.

 Another mistake is to forget to move.  In wrestling the defender's goal is to create enough space between himself and his opponent to be able to do what he wants to do.  The offensive goal is to take away your opponent's space.  A wise wrestler will recognize the attack that his enemy is employing and will move (keeping his base intact) to counter that attack.  (See the embedded video at the end.)

When we are engaged in spiritual warfare these same principles hold.  In our own ability and strength we quickly find ourselves frustrated by the enemy's skill level.  It often seems that they know where all of our levers are and that they can employ them at will.

The enemy loves to come at us with a flurry of attack that leaves us bewildered and out of touch with what is going on.  He brings strong temptations to us.  He lies to us.  He accuses us.  He deprives us of sleep.  He stirs up strife.  He injures us or makes us sick.  He orchestrates the circumstances around us to create the greatest level of chaos that he can.  It is in these times that everything in our world will seem to fall apart simultaneously.  It is like an ocean wave that catches us off guard and rolls us over and over and over.  We are so overwhelmed that we don't know what is going on and our ability to fight back is greatly compromised.

That is when we MUST get back to our base.

What is our base?  Our base is the Word of God.  This is the truth.  This is our position of strength.  This is our unassailable position.  The devil, just like any good wrestler will do everything that he can to tear down that base. 

The wrestler in red was on the bottom. 
He is executing a switch - a move that will
allow him to take the dominant position behind
his opponent.

Consider how the devil approached Jesus during his time of testing in the desert.  The devil did everything he could to move Jesus from his base.  Yet Jesus' response in each temptation was to counter it with the Word of God.

In the same way we have to come back to our base when the devil attacks us.  That means that we need to be very familiar with the Word of God.  We must become workmen who need not be ashamed because we can accurately handle the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)  That is accomplished by reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and exhorting each other with the Bible. 

Remember that the enemy tried to even use the Bible against Jesus in his temptation.  Because Jesus' hadn't satisfied Himself with a casual knowledge of the scriptures, He knew that the devil was trying to get Him to inappropriately apply the Bible's truth and was able to defeat him.

So, when the enemy comes in like a flood to wash you off your feet; when he tries to bury you under a wave of chaos, temptation, and despair, come back to your base.  Come back to the Word of God and its truth.  Remember that you will fail if you try to wrestle our enemy in your own strength.  Wrestle in the strength of the Lord and with the help of your brothers and sisters.  Counter each lie that the enemy has thrown in your face with God's truth from the Bible. This will stabilize you and help you to go back on the offensive.  Brothers and sisters, watch over each other.  When you see the enemy taking your brother down, remind him to get back to his base.  When your sister is overwhelmed give her the scriptures  that she needs to get her foundation back under her. 

As we continue to frustrate our enemy's attempts to tear us down, our strength will grow, and we will eventually find the opening that we have been looking for to go on the offensive and defeat him.