Today I played in the intramural soccer championship game. We won. It was awesome. Soccer is something I love. Running? I have no motivation, but throw a ball in the game and I’ll run until I can run no more. I am way too competitive for my own good, and I love it. When I step on the field, I’m in the game. When I can put everything else out of my mind but the purpose of why I’m on that field, it’s a beautiful time. When an entire team does this, the unity exhibited and the ethos created could determine the win.
Athletics have been a part of my life ever since I was in elementary school. When I first started playing, I had no idea what I was doing. None. I’m still ashamed of the videotape which can make me relive my first basketball game at the push of the button. There I am, running and sliding (a good few feet I might add) in my pink Nike’s, and sporting my fire engine red sweat pants which, of course, complemented my purple and white Jersey perfectly. Even though I had been venturing out to my cracked driveway to shoot hoops ever since I was three, the whole organized sports thing did not exactly come naturally. I remember waving my arms behind the offense trying to be a good defender during practice, and shooting at the wrong basket more than once in a game. One time during a tee ball game, one of the kids on my team scored a home-run, all of my fellow Panthers sitting indian style on the sidelines erupted in cheering and I, overwhelmed, cried. Awesome.
The point is athleticism is something I needed to grow into. But once I practiced, gained confidence, and grew in passion for the game, sports began to seem like a natural extension of who I am. Being a part of a quality play makes the game for me. I go all out. I have a hard time making myself hold back. It’s all a part of the game. (Unfortunately a black eye or two has made me rethink my enthusiasm from time to time.)
Today when I played, I started out strong. I was all in. My love for game itself made life seem that much better. But quickly, I grew exhausted. I could barely breathe normally, let alone sprint down the field. Soon, I had to take myself out of the game for a time (something I would never want to do) and watch my team run with the same passion I have for the game, but with the endurance that I lacked as I collapsed and tried to breathe.
The same is true in ministry and I have been allowing myself to loose grasp on that lately. In ministry, we need to go all out…we can’t hold back. God is doing awesome things in hearts and lives, and somehow–by His grace–He invites us to be a part of this, His perfect plan. However, in order to do this and be sustained, we need to train, condition, catch the ethos, gain confidence, build passion, and throw off every distraction.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3.
It’s easy to be busy. It’s easy even to be busy with ministry. Unfortunately it is also easy to become so busy with ministry that we forget to take the time to simply be with God. And why? because it seems we are just too busy serving. But we can’t exude Christ fully unless we fill our lives with Him. We must “throw off everything that hinders;” and we must “fix our eyes on Jesus.” If we do not, we will become weary, loose direction, and cease to endure. Then we will find ourselves sliding back and forth on the court in our Nike’s or, worse, taking ourselves out of the game to watch others serve Christ with abandon, in the way we know we are called.
We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He is our goal. The rest is just the means He has given us to point people to Him.
So yes, we must run the race, go, do, and become. But we must also take time to “be still and know” (Psalm 4:10). We must fix our eyes on Jesus.
He is our sustainer.
“My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8