(Due to technical difficulties, several of my shared social media outlets were not included in recent posts. Please forgive me for duplicating, but did not want to leave anyone out. Thank you.)
How many times do we hear people – including ourselves – say things like these?
That knocked me flat on my back.
I was flat on my back for a week.
I was so far down the only way to look was up.
I was so confused I didn’t know up from down.
I feel like my back is against the wall.
I have never felt so helpless (or substitute hopeless) in all my life.
Unpleasant as it may seem, when I hear or say statements like these I am reminded of a turtle or a cockroach that has been displaced and ends up on his back, with legs waving in the air. When this happens, regardless of the reason, the animal is helpless – defenseless – and without assistance, will die because of his position.
We sometimes find ourselves in that turtle/roach position – and don’t like it one bit! Any time we lose the ability to control at least basic functions of life, the emotional and physical impact is tremendous. Most if not all of us have been “run over by life” a time or two (did I hear you say ten?). When we’re literally or figuratively on our backs, we become frustrated, scared, angry. It is common to lose focus, the ability to reason, or even the desire to be cooperative. We’re tired, angry, and embarrassed. How did I get here again? Why can’t I prevent this from happening? We often learn and then play the role of the victim, even when we’re not being victimized. I am convinced that for some, “victimitis” is an addiction. As backward as it may sound, some people are unable to function unless they have a soapbox to stand on – an enemy to fight – a bully who is once again pushing them around.
But instead of cursing God, shaking our fist at Him, or crying out “Why me?” God would have us to ask ourselves some serious and genuine questions when we find ourselves in this “backward” position. Why is it that I have been knocked down? Is it truly the result of a bizarre, random attack? Is it a consequence of my own sin? Am I in the line of fire where someone else’s misdeeds are concerned? Think about how often you have asked God for answers while figuratively on your back. Now think about how many answers you have received while you are in that position. Probably not many. Why is this so?
II Corinthians 12:9-10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Two things come to mind.
First, most of us like to be in control of our own lives – probably too much so. We find false comfort in our own false power. God, however, provides us with more than abundant strength when we become weak! When we die to ourselves and our own selfish desires, He then fills us with the strength and grace we need to conquer whatever battles we are fighting.
I think God allows us to find ourselves in that position for a reason. It does feel helpless, and that’s exactly how He wants us to feel. The less we rely on ourselves, the more dependent we must become on Him.
Secondly, it’s all about position. I hear from God not when I’m flat on my back, but when I am firmly and intentionally on my face. The difference is phenomenal. You cannot take someone else’s word for this. It requires a personal experience to understand the power that God provides when we stop trying to fight off enemies ourselves, from a very defensive position, and fall prostrate before Him, submissive, ready to receive His wisdom.
If I’m on my back, I can still see you. I know where you are and can see you coming if you choose to attack me. My flesh needs to see what is happening! I can fend you off for a time, but I cannot defeat you. Left in this position, I will eventually die of paranoia and frustration.
When I am on my face, I cannot see you. I don’t know where you are or from where you will attack. This is frightens me because I know I am in a weakened position. I am defenseless. I am as submissive as I can be, in spite of my natural desire to know what is going on, and personally defend myself.
In this position, I must be completely and totally dependent on someone stronger and wiser than myself. What an unnatural act for a man! Since God created us, he knows how strong-willed we can be. He knows that we will default to our own strength and abilities in a pinch. So at times, I think He allows us to find ourselves in positions that show us just how unpowerful we truly are. Until it’s about humility, and until it’s all about Him, our back is where we will often stay.
It’s hard for me to imagine what would be attractive about the struggling turtle or roach. But even knowing the futility of that position, I still find myself there anyhow. Today’s encouragement – both for you and for me – is to maintain the discipline to spend more “face time” than “back time.”
When do you most often struggle to “get off your back?”
We can be stronger by sharing with each other. I look forward to hearing from you!
And, as always . . .
(Due to technical difficulties, several of my shared social media outlets were not included in my last four posts. Please forgive me for duplicating, but did not want to leave anyone out. Thank you.)
I have intentionally left out the goings on of the past week, mostly because I didn’t want to be embarrassed just in case I didn’t handle things well. From this point forward i’ not editing anything i this post unless thank the Lord for spell correctihjg, you get it fromn Him. On Wednesday I underwent a pretty major back surgery – a double disk fusion. Whey call it double fusion when they fuse together THREE vertebra I do not know. But It reallyt isn’t important right now because understanding muy intent is. You seem if I can communicate well with you while coming off of two heavy days of morphine, virtually any time I wanted it as lojng as it was only every eight nominates of the day, (that’s jiuuuiust a little heavy for me on any day), then i ought to do pretty good job most all the time.
The truth is though as much as anything I’m having trouble typing with this pulse ox thing typed to muy indue finger. I think you can credit about every nine out of ten mistakes to the index finger – which means since I just spelled it “indue” finger inn the last sentence, that one was probably the drugs.
As a matter of fact I was coherent enough – AT 4:12 AM – this morning, to snap this clever photo:
My new alarm clock. Hope I’m not here long enough to operate it!
Here are the instructions. More morphine – long course.
No more morphine – “likelihood” of “start up” instructions
Never mind it took me 24 minutes just ty type that message so i felt good about people unhderstandihbng it.
But during nmore coherent hours of the past few days I have given this entire process a bit mnore thought Even before the surgery God had this thought “running inn the background” of ny operating system (OS).
Since our purpose here at Realtime is to endouarge and challenge one another to “Bieng real” when it comes to becoming “God’s mnen,” husbands and fathers, I think it a pretty important thing that we explore our OS.
Think just for a minute of what all is required to have a good OS as a parent OR a spouse (and of either gender). All the responsibilities – the expectations – the duties – the obligations – the ways we show each other love – how we respect another – and most importantly, how we live out God’s character among another.
Now try to do all those things while either being OBN drugs, or conning OFF drugs – or a bout with alcohol. What about coming off a MAJOR LIFE SURGERY – a divorce, the estranbgenment of a child, the death of a family member, the diagnosis of a mental or emotional disorder (yes ALL those things DO happen to GOOD people).
But the one that we struggle to recover from the most – and the onje that we can do the most about . . . it’s the busy-ness. It’s the stress. It’s the lack of rest and quality timne. It’s not having enough battery to be God’s man or God’s woman. Oh, it’s not having the ability – it’s not appropriately USING the ability – HIS ability – provided in us.
Now, tell me you don’t know what the following screen is, and what is happening as a result. Since I’ve probably done enough damage thgis morning, I’mn going to lean on all of you to tell me what you see, and what you interpret.
Would you take some time from your busy day to comment on what you read and see?
And, as always . . .
“I’d take a bullet for you.”
“I wish I was the one in pain instead of you.”
“I wish I could take on your stress so you could feel more peaceful.”
“I’d climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest . . . blah blah blah . . . ”
Things we say to the people we love. They’re what’s expected . . .
But do we mean them?
Debbi and I took advantage of a Monday holiday and spent the afternoon taking in the blockbuster film, “Lone Survivor.” It is the story of four Navy seals who undertook what was probably a fairly ordinary mission for heroes, but ended up being a virtual, suicidal hell for three of the four.
Although the story itself was both sobering and inspiring, the thoughts it left me with as the leader and protector of my family were equally thought-provoking. As I watched the characters in the movie, the portraits of leadership, servanthood, provision, and protection were stunning. Pondering these traits later, it entered my mind that these are the same traits God expects of me as a husband and father!
Observing the dogged determination these men exhibited, and the valiant attempts to both survive, and leave no one behind, left me feeling – at best – wanting. Thankfully the likelihood that I will ever have to endure an explosive, two-day firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan to care for my family is quite slim. Because what these men did, and more importantly, why they did it, is hardly in my vocabulary, much less shown in my actions.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Church at Ephesus in Ephesians 5:
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ”For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Have you ever daydreamed, or imagined being in a survival situation? One where you have to decide what lengths you would go to in order to save your own life? What about the lives of your wife and children? Would you do the same for them that you would do for yourself?
Well for most of us, that scenario will never have to be played out. Truth is however, we are, as husbands and fathers, called to act daily. It’s not a “mountains of Afghanistan” type of behavior, but a consistent and willing type of service that virtually ensures the life of the relationships we are called to lead.
I think at our core, we’d all go to whatever lengths necessary to serve ourselves before we even think about serving someone else. Our cores are selfish – egocentric – all about us. But when Paul encouraged us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, what does that say to us?
Jesus loved completely, selflessly,
. . . and always.
The ways He loved weren’t even related to “mountains of Afghanistan” kinds of scenarios. But He was willing to be “The Lone Survivor.” He’d do anything to show people how, and how much He loved them.
So how do we, as men who are not God, show that kind of selfless, reckless love to our wives and kids?
We serve them.
Service looks, smells, feels, and tastes differently for every one of us. But the key is how it is perceived and received by the ones who look to us as their leader. It’s not laying down my life that gets my wife’s attention. It’s me knowing what is important to her, and following through by re-routing my routine, my day, and ultimately my life in order to show her how important she is to me.
Debbi and I were facilitating a marriage conference a few years ago, and she was asked by a female participant, “How does your husband show his level of service and commitment to you? She smiled and simply replied, “He makes my coffee and brings it to me every morning.” Nobody in the room was more surprised at her answer than me. But it illuminated for me how simple it is to show her that I love her. Believe me, just making her coffee isn’t enough to seal the deal – to show her how much I cherish her as my wife.
But it is that simple.
I know that many of the readers of this blog are women.
What are the simple acts of service, produced consistently, that tell you that your husband loves you more than he thinks of himself?
What are the things you’d “like” to see – that would be meaningful to you?
And guys, would you share with the rest of us some of the things you have learned, that make a huge difference to your wives? (and ultimately to you?) 🙂
Most of us need all the help we can get . . .
I look forward to hearing your comments!
And, as always . . .