Spiritual Ninja Warrior

This get up is inspired by the competition series, American Ninja Warrior. I’m so amazed at what those contestants are able to do. I gotta know, Who are you people? Where does your dedication come from? Were your parents Ninjas or do you come from a long line of Warriors? It will make me feel better as a parent and person if you would just answer “yes” to that last one.

I watch this show in total disbelief. These athletes blast through these obstacles with such determination, they make it look so easy. Sometimes they’ll barrel through the entire course, other times they’ll stop at each obstacle, assessing the risk, reminding their body of what it was trained to do. And if they haven’t stopped at the other obstacles like Cliffhanger or Dragon’s Belly, they almost always stop at that dreaded Warped Wall.

They’re totally fatigued, probably experiencing muscle failure and yet they put the excuses and fear of failure aside, sweep their shoes with their sweaty palms and make a run for it. Eager to tackle this vertical skateboard ramp.

At this point in the race I have no fingernails left. I’m just a mess of nerves, cheering on these strangers like, ”YAAAAAAAAAY!!!! GOOOOO!!!!” As if they can hear me. I’m so dramatic.

Physically speaking, I have little in common with these amateur (they seem like pro’s to me) athletes. You see, I usually choose the path of least resistance. Then I had another baby.

As I rid myself of my baby fat (again), I am reminding myself that I need to be uncomfortable in my workouts to get the results I’m after. And not just when I feel like it. Nope, I have to get into the practice of doing these hard workouts, pushing myself, on a regular basis. Jesus, help me.

As you might have guessed, this same truth applies for all hard things: physical, emotional, financial, and most importantly, spiritual. Yep, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called and are being trained up to be Spiritual Ninja Warriors.

Thankfully, the laws of physics that apply in our physical journey do not apply to our spiritual journey because…Grace. (deep sigh of relief–aaaahhhh.)

Here’s what I mean, if I went to compete for the American Ninja Warriors’ show right now, in my physical state, my course run would probably end up on America’s Funniest Videos instead because I haven’t trained. I’m not equipped.

Since the maker of Heaven and Earth is the one to equip me for this spiritual obstacle course, then even if I don’t feel or look or seem spiritually equipped, I am. 

Because of that I’m free to run this race like I am on America’s Funniest Video’s. I can find joy in it, fall down, make mistakes and eventually, complete it because the race is also my training ground and I have no competition whatsoever.

This spiritual obstacle course was designed specifically for me. Each obstacle is a test of strength, created to exercise my faith. It intends to help me realize that I can’t do this without the Trainer, without the Creator of the course. I have to trust and rely on Him and that doesn’t come through the easy stuff.

The strengthening of my Faith comes by doing the hard thing, by being in those desperate and uncomfortable places. It’s warped wall moments, cliff hangers, swinging ropes, and steep climbs. It’s being courageous when what you’re facing is scary. It’s trying even when or if, to you and everyone else, what He’s asked of you seems ridiculous, or pointless or impossible. It’s giving up the, “Why, God? How, God?” and simply saying, “Yes, God.” It’s wiping off your feet with sweaty palms and climbing the thing that looks like it could consume you.  It’s doing what you just.don’t.want.to.do.

And the doing, oh, the doing! Let’s just be real here. Sometimes (ok, pretty much every time) I feel like I’m not ready for the stuff God is asking me to do. It’s awkward and uncertain. Often I doubt it’s even Him. There is such beauty in these awkward places. This is where I pause, this is where I toil with the truth that I don’t have as much faith as I thought I did, that my abilities are limited. That I’m far too human to be used  by God.

And then my Holy Trainer reminds me that, in Him I have no limitation. He’s got me. I’m harnessed in–attached to Him by Love that never fails. So I step, trusting in His rigging of Grace and Love.

Each obstacle teaches me to rely on Him, to rest in Him, to trust Him. As I put myself in uncomfortable places over and over, the pauses become shorter, the stepping out in faith becomes easier, leaps of faith don’t seem as scary, and trapeze acts of faith don’t spell certain death.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 

This is when our steps of Faith look really easy to other people, like we’re Spiritual Ninja Warriors. They don’t always see our toil, they just see us gliding over these things they might be stumbling over. The difference in how we move through these obstacles is not in our time spent as a Christian, or the amount of training we’ve achieved but rather the abundance of our surrender.

This word surrender makes us weary. We prefer the word sacrifice. Sacrifice makes it about our ability while surrender makes it about His.

The surrender is so exquisite though. Surrender let’s me lean in to the harness He’s secured me in, so He can lead me. It’s here that I’m held up by His strength. It’s here that I move freely in love, grace, gifts and callings. I don’t need to strain or strive because He has all of me.

So tell me, what’s that thing He’s asking you to do that requires faith, that requires you to lean in, that seems impossible? What’s your warped wall? If you don’t know, ask Him right now and then take that first step of faith, of surrender, of obedience.

I promise, with Him, you’ll slay that thing. You were meant to. That warped wall will straighten, those cliffs will have no ledge, the mountains will crumble. It will not be impossible with God. He is with you, holding you up, propelling you forward to run those obstacles like a Spiritual Ninja Warrior, like it’s easy, like you were designed for it, because you were.

As you continue in the race the Lord has called you, know that I’m not biting my nails or nervous for you. Your course was designed specifically for you. So go ahead, show us the beauty of your surrender. Inspire us to be courageous, to love, to let go, to forgive, to step, to leap, to fly. Remind us what it looks like to rely on God’s victorious right hand. And as you do I hope you’re able to hear me screaming my head off like, “YAAAAAAAAAY!!!! GOOOOO!!!!” Because I am.


Scripture references:

Psalms 37:23; Isaiah 45:2; Isaiah 42:15&16; Hebrews 10:19-25; James 1:2-4