Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor
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The One Move Necessary
Many years ago, the magazine called The Ladies Home Journal asked, "In whom do you trust?" Responses were: Walter Cronkite 40% of the vote, Pope John Paul 26%, BillyGraham 6%, God 3%. What would our list look like if we answered the same question?
It doesn't take much reflection to recognize how much trust we give to others.
Everytime we step on an elevator, or get into a car or a bus or an airplane, we
are putting our trust in other people. If we stopped trusting others we would be unable to live. We wouldn't feel safe eating any food that we bought, driving on any tires that someone else manufactured, walking over a bridge, taking a subway, having a cup of coffee in a restaurant. Of course, the list is much too long to complete. It seems we are forced to trust others just in order to live life each day.
Jeremiah says that if our trust is only in people, then we are like dry scrub in wasteland. But if we trust in the Lord, we are like a tree that is planted by the waterside and thrusts its roots in the stream. And in the Gospel, Jesus gives us the beatitudes. These sayings of Jesus can be summed up in the one word: trust. Blessed are those who are not self-sufficient, for they will have the Lord as their strength. We ordinarily do not think of our weaknesses as being a source of strength, but that is precisely the message of Jesus.
The One-Armed Boy
Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. "Master," the boy finally said, "Shouldn't I be learning more moves?"
"This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the Master replied.
Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.
Several months later, the Master took the boy to his first tournament.
Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match
proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.
This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the Master intervened. "No," the Master insisted, "Let him continue." Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.
On the way home, the boy and Master reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind. "Master, how did I win the tournament with only one move?"
"You won for two reasons", his teacher answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm."
Remember, the boy had no left arm. The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength. We are asked by Jesus to be poor in Spirit. Not to seek for human strength in riches or comfort, intelligence or ingenuity. If we master that one move of trust in God, we will emerge the winner in life even though we will appear severely handicapped to other people. Trusting in God is the only move we need to master. But as the teacher said to the boy about the one move he was teaching, so we also must say about trust. It is the one move we need, but it is also one of the most difficult to learn.
It's always a temptation to focus on our weakness, on our own personal
handicaps. And even though this is natural, most often it just gets us further
into our own little world of self-preoccupation. We spend so much energy
thinking about what we lack, about what we don't have, about what others do
have--that we forget God's promises to us--yours is the kingdom of God, you
shall be satisfied, you shall laughdance for joy, your reward will be great in
We are all quite aware that we lack control about many of the things that happen to us. Accidents happen, jobs are lost, relationships go sour. So many times there is nothing we can do to change the outward shape of our circumstances. But the one thing that can never be taken from us is our inner stance. We always have the power to decide what attitude we are going to assume in any given situation. Today Our Lord is encouraging us to take on an attitude of trust.
Allow me to finish today's reflection with a short poem:
Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for his will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest