“Fight all your battles on your knees..,”
Dr. Charles Stanley
My earliest memories of “being on my knees” was during my prayers at bedtime with my mother by my side we would say together, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord y soul to take.” Even though she tried to explain them to me, I couldn’t really grasp what the words meant. I just knew it was something that I was taught to do. Now I am so thankful to her for showing me how to tap into my life source.
The first time I saw a group of people “on their knees” was during the 67 riots. Several people had been herded out of the Lee Plaza Hotel at gun point. Some wrapped in sheets or towels, some bare foot, others with robes and night gowns, while others looked like they grabbed whatever they could to cover themselves. They were told to face the wall and get down on their knees by men in army fatigues. One man stated that they were looking for a sniper that had run into the hotel and they were sure that someone in that line knew where this person was. Watching this from our front porch, it filled me with fear and curiosity especially once I saw the tanks rolling down our street. The next thing I knew, my grandmother had pulled me inside, flung me to the floor and told me to stay there until I was told otherwise. Some days later when we were allowed to go outside to play I remember counting the holes in the side of our house, they were bullet holes.
Two decades later I was to see another group of people on their knees in Beirut, Lebanon. This time they were all men at least 20 on the side of the road, men in army fatigues were shouting at them. The streets were lined with sand bags and once again tanks were rolling down the main thorough fare. It reminded me of being in Detroit.
The next time I saw a group on their knees before I joined the church was in Izmir, Turkey. We were in the middle of an earthquake. It had struck quickly. We did not have time to take cover, so we were told to get as close to the floor as possible.
And lastly, a friend of mine was describing being robbed and car jacked. She talked about the fear that paralyzed her until her assailant told her to “get on her knees.” “Girl he didn’t have to tell me twice, it was the best thing he could have asked me to do.” He fled and she wasn’t harmed.
In a world of violence and conflict, to be on one’s knees is regarding as demeaning, a sign of defeat and surrender. It is a position that says that the circumstances or situation that we find ourselves in is beyond our control.
For me, being on my knees is a position of strength. I have found that starting and ending my days on my knees is the most powerful thing that I can do. Physically it is a blessing to be able to get on your knees. Ask an amputee, someone in intensive care, or someone who does not have the use of their limbs. It is a blessing to be able physically to get on your knees.
Yes, it is a position of surrender. And who better to surrender to than to God.
In trying to follow God’s directive in creating and growing Gospel Against AIDS, I am constantly in situations that are completely out of my control. The battles have and continue to be plenteous. Daily I speak to individuals who do not want to acknowledge their risk behaviors. I pray for them. Sadly, I am asked to perform an increasing number of home going services for individuals who have passed from AIDS related illnesses. I get on my knees for them. I am called to hospital bedsides, receive 911 calls from someone newly diagnosed, asked to translate positive diagnosis for French-speaking women far away from their families, and the list goes on. I am humbled to be called on for such delicate and sensitive situations. Seeing their pain, confusion and anger, my heart breaks for all them. While epidemiologists see these cases as “numbers” I am close to them and know that they are people who need love at this time more perhaps more than ever before. I am not the only one in the GAA team that encounters these situations. Everyone has, some more frequently than others. And with each encounter, I have tried to instill in everyone, the power they have to pray. Pray for the individuals and prayer for themselves that they can hear and heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit and say what needs to be said or say nothing at all. I have watched their lives change because of these encounters. It has been a beautiful thing.
GAA does far more than just HIV CTR. At its core, we have been regarded as a “ministry” because of our ability and willingness to “get on our knees.”
I don’t want anyone to have to find themselves waiting the longest 15 minutes of their life for their HIV test results before they realize that they need to or should have been getting on their knees. Get on your knees before the battle comes. Humble yourself every day. There are some who say that they don’t have to get on their knees to surrender to God. Yes that’s true, because of the shredded blood of Jesus the Christ; we don’t “have” to get on our knees. When I am driving, or working or any number of things I pray, but during my sacred time, for me, it is a position of gratitude, the highest form of respect, and surrender.
My childhood bedtime prays have given way to more of a conversation but mostly I am learning how to listen. And I do this all on my knees.
“Fight all your battles on your knees and you will win.”
Dr. Charles Stanley