Yes. I’m going to talk about it.
A couple of days ago in an NBA playoff game, Golden State Warrior Draymond Green kicked Oklahoma Thunder Steven Adams in a most sensitive area of his body. The infraction has since been upgraded to a “flagrant two” foul with a fine of $25,000.
If you are concerned that I would discuss such things in a devotional, I need to remind you God has never shied away from these kinds of subjects. One of the most famous biblical accounts about male incapacitation can be found in Joshua 5 before the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into Canaan. It seems the men of military age who had been born since leaving Egypt had not been circumcised. To bring them up to speed (as far as God’s covenant was concerned), Joshua had them circumcised. That’s right. Before the mighty men of war from the camp of Israel entered Canaan land to do battle, God instructed Joshua to orchestrate a strategic operation, “so to speak.”
I have often wondered what Joshua thought when God asked him to perform these circumcisions. What did the men of war think? Maybe they called “flagrant foul!” But to no avail.
The purpose of God’s command to Joshua was clear. While the ritual of circumcision might have temporarily incapacitated the men of war in Israel, it did set the record straight on the source of their strength. They would only be as successful in their battles in Canaan as their humility before God would allow. Completing their obedience with the male sign of God’s covenant with his people was crucial in expression this humility.
Incapacitation can be a good thing for the kingdom. When any of us are knocked down we are forced to revisit why we are here and who is directing our paths. The Apostle Paul had an unknown infirmity that plagued him throughout his ministry. He prayed for God to take it away, but God denied his request. Paul reached a place of peace with this speculation: ‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “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.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
There is an old gospel song that says “sometimes you have to be knocked down to make you look upward.” (Imperials) Indeed, there are times when God has to humble us in no uncertain terms before He has our full attention.
A kick in the groin will certainly get our attention. But so will a lot of other experiences. Perhaps you have been knocked down by an illness, a financial failure, a sin, the end of a relationship, or some other event that rocked your faith. During these seasons in our lives we discover what is inside of our hearts and who is in charge of our future.
God doesn’t always have to bring us to our knees to get our attention. We can choose to follow a path of daily reflection on His Word as well as confession and petition through prayer. This doesn’t mean spiritual discipline makes us immune to hardship. It’s just that God doesn’t intend for us to learn everything the hard way.
Should we refer to the times when God humbles us as a “kick in the groin?” Well, maybe. But you won’t hear me call it that in any of my sermons. That too could become a “flagrant two” foul.
Just be ready. If you think nothing can put you flat on the ground you obviously have never met Draymond Green.