12 December 2010

Trying Too Hard?

Try? Try not! Do, or do not! There is no “try”. - Yoda

Let me begin by stating that Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life and no one gets to the Father except through Him. Jesus is the The Way.

But what is the way to Jesus? How do we “live Christ-like lives” in any kind of meaningful, real way? I read the Word, I pray, I fast, I meditate (in that I think deeply on some things), I do good works – some even spontaneously, I try to teach, I discuss and... I blog.

Americans are achievers by nature. I am an achiever. Goal oriented. Mission focused. I am a great planner. I DO a lot. I try very hard at some things. Go! Go! Go! Accomplish! Produce!

I bring a lot of that to my walk with God. Which is to say I bring a lot of baggage. Ever hear the pop Christian phrase, “Let go and let God”? Heck, I’ve even used that in sermons. Easy to say. Not too difficult to do when one focuses on doing it – on letting go. It’s very hard for me to do consistently in life. That verse is not in the Word but the thought is there – TRUST God. I “trust” God. I know He IS. But I don’t completely surrender. I have things to DO, don’t you see?

And besides, God does not want me to just sit around and “let Him” does He? He does want me to DO stuff. Work for my bread, provide for my family, love Him, love my neighbor, works follow faith, teach, preach, baptize...and on and on.

I had a brief moment of clarity a couple weeks ago and I really should have started writing at that time – but I had so much other stuff to do... and I lost a part of it.

It has to do with my martial arts background and my study of Eastern religions (in that I have a better-than-most understanding of them). Jeet Kune Do’s The Way of No Way. “You don’t strike with the fist, the fist ...strikes!” Zen.

In martial arts when one learns a new technique it feels awkward at first. Something as simple as throwing a straight punch requires a myriad of movements and tensions and relaxations, torques here, pushes there, fingers this way, knuckles that way...

It requires a lot of concentration at first and all of that concentration, all of that TRYING really gets in the way of throwing a good punch. Students throw endless repetitions of the punch. They punch air, they punch pads, they punch bags, and sometimes, in some styles, they punch each other. Over and over and over and over and over. Some are critiqued – “more power in your hips!” some are ignored. Constantly in the new student’s mind is chatter – “do this, don’t do that” and, “that was good, that was sloppy”.

And then one day it happens. Suddenly, instead “throwing a punch” the punch just happens. No thought. Mushin no shin – mind of no mind. Empty the mind and let it flow.

Be very careful. This can be a dangerous thing spiritually...we do NOT want to empty our mind and just let whatever garbage or demons and what not flow in. This is not what I’m trying (there is that word) to get across. But I am trying to get at giving up the trying. Stop trying to throw a punch and just punch. Stop trying so hard with God and just let God.

Stop trying and just do.
Stop trying and just be.
BE with Him
Stop the internal chatter, quiet the noise and listen.

Do you know there is active listening and passive listening - and I’m not talking about conversations. I hunt a good deal. I can exhaust myself just looking intensely through the branches and listening very hard for a few hours. Then I can relax and just see, just hear. Muddle the focus a bit and take it all in. It’s easier and I think I actually get more out of it. Mushin no shin.

Psalm 46:10: Be still, and know that I am God...


  1. Interesting way to put it.

    Do you still "practice" the arts? Or teach them, aside from the firearms?


  2. I still practice and work out but not anything like I used to. It's now "weekly" instead of "daily". I no longer teach regularly either - I have had to let some things go and unfortunately that was one of them. In fact, I was getting very good and FREE BJJ lessons but I just couldn't dedicate the time. Very sad...but it's the reality of my life - only so many hours in a day.