Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

Ronda Rousey, Loud Harp, And A Crucial Distance


Is there anybody here like Peter, sinking? Call to my Jesus and He’ll draw nigh.  Is there anybody here like Thomas, doubting? Call to my Jesus and He’ll draw nigh.”   —“Weeping Mary” by Loud Harp

Recently, I came across an article in Sports Illustrated detailing the meteoric rise and devastating fall of one of MMA’s brightest stars, Ronda Rousey.  Here’s how SI (rightly) summarized Ronda’s ascendancy:

Remember Rousey? Only two years ago she wasn’t merely a superstar, she was a superhero. Wonder Woman with no headband but a complement of black belts instead. She was The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, as Rolling Stone headlined a 2015 story. At SI she was The World’s Most Dominant Athlete. It didn’t seem hyperbolic. In Rousey’s first 12 professional MMA fights, only one challenger made it beyond Round 1. At UFC 175 she finished off her opponent in 16 seconds. In her next fight she needed 14. ‘She’s unreal,’ UFC impresario Dana White told SI then. ‘It’s like, Are you for real?’”

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This was domination (an ESPN poll selected Rousey as the “Best Female Athlete Ever”).  This was a takeover.  This was stardom.  Ronda had glory for her name.

…But…what if the unthinkable ever happened?

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In June of 2017, Loud Harp released their latest album entitled “Hope Where There Was None.”  It is a wonderfully crafted collection of songs centering on the theme of the closeness of God.

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Or rather, it is like a master’s class on how to weave a concept all throughout an album with creativity and beauty.  Every single track connects to the comforting and life-giving promise that a loving God is near.   From all different angles, the album examines this theme and lays out the benefits to us.  The Gospel is true, Jesus is alive, God is with us, and this makes all the difference.

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On November 15, 2015, the unthinkable did happen for Ronda Rousey.  She stepped into the Octagon as a heavy favorite in her 7th title defense which would pit her against Holly Holm.  Here would be a reckoning.

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Rousey was absolutely demolished.  The one who was voted “Best Female Athlete” just months before was thoroughly outclassed in every way.  Holm laid waste to Rousey and finished her off with a punishing high kick.

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The crescendo of Loud Harp’s album comes on track nine, “No Distance Anymore.”  As mentioned above, the album has explored this theme of the nearness of God.  On “No Distance Anymore,” it is fully and most wonderfully realized.  The two verses come from Psalm 139:7-11 which says this: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night.’ Even the darkness is not dark to You.”

Loud Harp writes the first verse of their song like this:

Where could I run?
Where could I hide? 

In the darkest of places, I cannot escape it

Your love finds me

This is the truth of Scripture.  This is the nearness of God.

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If I say, “Ronda Rousey was devastated by her loss,” I would be gravely understating the situation.  Instead, I will let her own words illustrate how deeply this loss impacted her.  In an interview some months later, she said this about the loss: “I was down in the corner, and I was like, What am I anymore if I’m not this? I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself, and that exact second I’m like, I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? and No one gives a s— about me anymore without this.”

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The second verse continues like this:

Where could I run?
Where could I hide?

At my lowest of lows, You never let go

Your love finds me

The bright contrast of the song comes in the chorus, which is based on Psalm 23.  While the verses point to the reality of the “darkest of places” we can find ourselves in, or the “lowest of lows” we all experience, the chorus echo’s David’s famous psalm by declaring “All Your goodness and mercy, they follow me.”

This is the truth of Scripture.  This is the nearness of God.

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I don’t know Ronda Rousey, probably never will.  But I can see that her god has let her down; and I’ve known the same.  Live long enough away from the love of Christ and you too will walk this road.

Her god was achievement and glory.  It was building her own name.  Her hopes, her dreams, her entire identity was built upon her performance, her victories.  Glory was her god.

And when a loss came?  The collapse was complete.  Did you see the gravity of her words?  A loss in a competition brought out the deepest questions and gut-wrenching answers. “What am I anymore if I’m not this?” An incredibly revealing quote.  “I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself, and that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing.’” My heart breaks for her just reading that.

There is no security if personal glory is your god.  NONE.  You will never have enough wins/titles/scoreboard.  You will never find rest and peace when your worship goes to that god.  There aren’t enough victories to satisfy that god.

Comfort will be fleeting.  Anxiety will be constant.  Personal glory is an awful god to serve for around every corner lurks the question that Ronda was always seeking to have answered: “Am I good enough?  Have I achieved enough?  Is my performance sufficient?”

And when there’s a misstep, a failure, or a loss?  Personal glory evaporates.  It is nowhere to be found.

All of a sudden, you realize your god is an infinite distance away from you.  And despair of the worst kind sets in.

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The climactic bridge of “No Distance Anymore” is the anthem of the entire album.  This is the banner Loud Harp raises, and it goes like this:

There’s no distance anymore

You’re behind, You go before

Your eyes are on me

There’s no distance anymore

You’re behind, You go before

You love COMPLETELY

Because the Gospel is true, because Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again, we have answers to the questions that Loud Harp has been asking.

In the darkest of places, His love FINDS us.

At the lowest of lows, He NEVER lets go.

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As a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit alive inside of me.  I have a real relationship with the God of the entire universe.  I am counted as a child of God. I have a family. I have a hope.  I have Jesus as my God.

There’s no distance anymore. His eyes are on me.  His love for me never fails.  He is always and forever WITH me.

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The truth of the Gospel is this: the glory belongs to GOD.

Life isn’t about my gains, my victories, my accomplishments, my titles.  The glory belongs to Jesus because it is HIS performance that saves me. Questions like: “Am I good enough?  Have I achieved enough?  Is my performance sufficient?” are irrelevant – Jesus was perfect, His sacrifice was flawless. It is HIS sinless life that I receive.

Life isn’t about my missteps, my failures, my losses.  The glory belongs to Jesus because on the Cross, all my sin was placed on HIM.  I don’t have to get lost in a pit of personal condemnation; He’s already raised me to new life.  It is is HIS amazing grace that covers me.

So I am free to walk humbly and hopeful.  If it’s about Jesus and His perfection, then I can humbly pursue that.  If it’s about Jesus and His sacrifice, then I don’t have to despair because I believe when He said “It is finished!”

Jesus is the God who’s worth worshipping.  He is the only God worth serving.  And He is the God who is always close by.

There’s no distance anymore.

Thanks for reading.  Your comments and insights are always welcomed.  If you enjoyed this, please share it.  Want more content?  Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast on iTunes.

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2017 by in Blogroll and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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