As legend has it, Harry Houdini died because he was sucker punched. Out of nowhere he was punched in the gut and he wasn't ready for it. I have read where some of his contemporaries blamed him for not being prepared; he should have seen the punch coming. But how can one man be prepared for a sucker punch that can come at any time? It is impossible to be prepared for everything at all times. In our arrogance as "know it all" onlookers we judge and stamp the label of "failure" on others when they make a mistake or are casualties of events that are out of their control. What could Harry do, he was sucker punched?
Sin sucker punches us all. When we least expect it sin unleashes into our world deadly unforeseen damage that can leave even the strongest of us speechless. I have seen people weep & wail because of sin's venom. So, often out of the blue the hurting come running to their pastor, the leadership, or trusted counselors and cry "help me!" In their pain they wonder why no one has stopped this, or why no one warned them about the real horror of sin's consequences.
"Hey, we all were sucker punched!" Instead of casting stones of blame, or demanding a new policy to be put in place to stop all sucker punches; let's first learn to offer mercy toward each other, practice patience, and do not leap to judgment. "Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ."
My good friend Ken Vanderwest told me a story about what it means to be a pastor. It is quite cryptic, but if you chew on it awhile the truths will squirt out...that is how it is with all good parables.
Imagine you are walking along a scenic path in the mountains. It is a beautiful day, a cloudless sky with soft rays of sunlight warming you as you enjoy your hike. Up ahead is a long wooden bridge connecting the trail that is interrupted by a deep canyon crevice. As you pass along the bridge you stop to look down; the steep cliffs of the canyon stretch a good 500 feet into a fast moving river.
Out of nowhere, you see a man running toward you down the path...he has a rope tied around his waist. He comes to you quickly on the bridge and commands you to hold the end of the rope that is tied to him. As you grab it he jumps over the edge. "Hey buddy, what are you doing?" He says nothing while he dangles 20 feet down over the open mouth of the canyon. You can barely hold on so you yell down,"Climb up, I can't hold on to this forever." The man doesn't respond he just dangles.
What do you do? Well as the rope starts slipping, you realize you have no leverage to pull him up on your own. There is nothing you can do. When the rope finally does slip out of your hand who gets blamed for his death? The one who was holding the rope, and that is ministry.
Sin makes sport of all of us, it sucker punches us and we are left blaming each other. That is Satan's whole objective of the sucker punch -- not to hurt us directly but to distract us, turn our anger on each other rather than on the sin that so easily entangles.