Posted by: Tom Gaddis | June 27, 2009

Fighting Trim

Tim Kennedy,

Tim Kennedy,

This post is actually Part One of my answer to the question, “What impact did your Sabbatical have on you?”

This week I enjoyed watching on TV a young man who grew up in our congregation, Tim Kennedy, fighting in some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) matches. Strength, talent, and great attitude make this amazing fighter a joy to watch. Great job, Tim!

It’s interesting, as someone new to the sport, to watch the moment come when an opponent has no choice but to tapout; a signal he’s done and the fight’s over.

In a strange way it reminds me of my Sabbatical—a tapout. And I know that using this metaphor will bother some who embrace a trial-free, 24-7 victorious Christian life.

This heresy cries out, “No tapouts!”

“No tapouts?”

This thinking so flies in the face of the New Testament where we continually are called to endure hardship: battles, warring, fighting, suffering, resisting, wrestling, and striving. Some of the godliest people I’ve known have battled and lost marriages, fights with cancer, and fallen to a host of temptations.

The truth is, the best of us don’t win all our fights or send the enemy fleeing in every battle. We all tapout at times. We all have seasons to retreat for counsel, to be restored in our relationship with Jesus, and to renew ourselves in the Holy Scriptures so that we can fight another day.

Consider this, if Jesus our Lord, Savior and Friend left the planet with scars, then why do we believe we will leave any different?

Jesus, the ultimate fighter, shed His blood on the cross. He did spiritual battle with Satan, death, hell, sin, and the grave, but in the end the stone was rolled away. He walked out the risen King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

So for me, Sabbatical was a tapout. It was a break from ministry that I should have taken sooner and more often. I was done, crushed, exhausted, and losing many battles.

I think the time away for me was about getting back into fighting trim— dropping weight, gaining strength, and honing reflexes—each vital for future rounds with the flesh, the world, and the devil.

Dropping Weight

Fighters lose who carry unnecessary weight. The heaviness of arrogance is something I’m learning to keep off. I find myself fighting an inborn arrogance that believes I can get by with a lot of me and a little of God. The past month has been a time of deeper and deeper repentance in this regard for me.

1097097_onionI recall a speaker saying once, “The human heart is like an onion—it has layers. Your eyes water every time God peels back another layer.”

Jesus is peeling off layers that have left me smaller and God bigger. During this time I’ve come to a startling revelation about me: I’m a bigger sinner than I ever imagined, but God is also a greater Savior than I’ve ever known.

So Sabbatical has been a season where God began helping me to repent—clearing out the underbrush of wrong motives, resentments, faultfinding, unkind thoughts, sarcastic words and idols.

With eyes moist, Tom



  1. Good word Tom! I appreciate the honesty and the encouragement this message brings.

  2. Tom – thank you again for your transparency – I’m sure I speak for many when I say I am blessed and softened by what you share, and led to examine my own heart a level deeper.

  3. Thanks Carrie, you’re an awesome mother, friend, and follower of Jesus. Thank you for your example. We love you,


  4. Tom, I too am realizing I am a bigger sinner than I ever imagined. If I had a dime for every sin, I could solve the California budget crisis! My challenge comprehending the truth “God is a greater Savior than I’ve ever known”. Thanks for drawing some of those tears out of me. It seems you have a gift for doing that to me lately.

  5. WoW! I like that its so true.

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