Two sides to every story

I love Japanese history.  Reading through it, it is easy to see how various influences and events shaped the Japanese way of thinking and acting.

On Sunday, we were talking about the saying Japan is known for: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”

Many of us can relate.  We are ministering to people, we see openness and a movement of the Gospel in their lives and then WHAM.  Disappear.  It’s almost as if an invisible hammer knocks them back into place and we lose contact or just something happens.

I understand that this phrase originates in the Edo period- a period when Japan closed its borders to outsiders and began a violent suppression and almost annihilation of the small growth of Christianity that had begun some 50 years beforehand.

Apparently Tokugawa Ieyasu (the leader at that time) established a five family system.  The five families each had to report to the local Buddhist priest and keep each other in check.  If one person in one of the families was found to be a Christian (or have committed other offenses), not only were they punished, but all five families were punished.

Thus the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

And while I’ve heard this and read it somewhere, I saw other Japanese nodding during this talk, which makes me think it’s pretty accurate.  I’ll do my research though.

Our focus was to pray so that the nails would be protected from the attack of the hammer… that our prayers would in essence create a force field around them.

As we spent time in prayer, I felt that God showed me a block of nails.  There are two sides to the hammer. As we prayed, the hammer was turned around and with prayer, the nail became lodged between the claws of the hammer allowing it to be pulled out. I get so excited when I write this, for real.

Prayer is not only preventative and defensive, it’s offensive and producing change.

Once the nails are out, there is only a useless block of wood with holes in it.  I felt that this system that has been keeping them in bondage is what the wood represents.  But what’s awesome is that the nails are free.

So, we pray and pray and pray.

Jason Mandryk, co-author of Operation World, said:

“When man works, man works.  When man prays, God works.”

Martin Luther said:

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Let’s pray on, knowing that our God is more than able.


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