Dealing With the Twisties!

During the summer games of the 2021 Olympics from Tokyo, we heard a lot about a condition some athletes deal with that is appropriately designated as the "twisties" or being "lost in space." There are an incredible number of rolls, spins and twists that precision divers undertake jumping off the platforms in the aquatic competitions. Equally skilled and gifted women gymnasts also execute these in their routines on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and in the floor exercises. I can certainly understand how they could lose their sense of spatial orientation and put themselves in considerable danger of serious injury during entry into the water or by a missed landing on a hard surface.

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Sports' specialists across the spectrum, including basketball players and golfers, say that the ability to keep the mind and body in sync is crucial to success. They speak of "muscle memory" and the ability to instantly recall skills and maneuvers learned through hours of practice. Things can go badly, when all of a sudden, an athlete becomes spatially challenged and is no longer able to execute what he or she knows how to do!

For years, I have been susceptible to bouts of vertigo and motion sickness. Unlike many of my peers, I am unable to enjoy any amusement park rides that twirl me around or turn me upside down. You may be wondering how I know I am spatially challenged in this way! Well, I have some graphic stories I can tell like the occasion when I rode the "Tilt-A-Whirl" with a close friend one afternoon in Fort Worth! Afterwards, my head was still spinning as he helped me get out of the ride's car and was not too happy to find some of my stomach contents on his new tennis shoes!  I can attest that there was some serious "whirling" going on!  I still get a queasiness in my stomach just thinking about this! My friend never asked me again to get on any amusement park ride with him! 😓 

Curiously and seriously, there is a word for sin in the Old Testament that is spiritually akin to the idea of the "twisties." Those affected by this aspect of sin experience being morally out-of-balance and lost. In Exodus 34:7, there are three words used for sin. The first listed (awon in Hebrew) is usually translated "iniquity." It is used over 200 times in the Bible and carries the implication of being perverse, crooked or twisted. This sin references a moral failure that is a very intentional twisting or defiance of God's standard. 

When David fell into sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-5), he knew full well that what he was doing was intentionally defying the high standards that God had for him! In his desire to do what he wanted to do, David was living in sin and outside of the will of God for him. Living by the world's standards leads us to doing what feels good regardless of the consequences! That was David's sin! In the end, David repented and God forgave him, but the rippling effect of this act of twisted impulsiveness would continue to impact him. Later, Absalom, David's son, would repeat this same sin and break his father's heart (2 Samuel 13-19).

The New Testament, James, counsels against the "twisties" of presumption. How often have we decided ahead of time what we are going to do and when we are going to do it? I remember how a seasoned mentor would often qualify his plans, even for a much deserved time of vacation, by saying, "If the Lord wills, we hope to get away next week and visit our family out of state." In my immaturity, I would react by saying, "Why don't you just plan to do it and then, follow through?!" This wise pastor friend was simply following the biblical admonition with that qualifying statement. James warned believers, "What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.' Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." (James 4:15-17, NLT).

The "twisties" of life are troubling and trip us up! Let faith lead by doing what God wills and steer away from presumption and the sin of willfulness!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 


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