The 2004 volleyball season was one of my toughest seasons. The first month was spent dealing with gym floor repairs and painting, girls getting things stolen out of their lockers, injuries, bus break downs, people complaining about playing time, the first losing season of my career, and the list went on. That’s not what I planned – that wasn’t part of my goal. I asked myself, “What is going on?” I thought I’d put a lot of time into coaching – preparing and planning. Why weren’t things going my way? How do you deal with frustration? How do you deal with life when life isn’t fair? What do you do, when what you planned isn’t being executed and the results are not what you planned?
There is a passage in the Bible that helped me refocus. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” This is a sermon (or three), so I’ll quickly sum up what I learned!
The first thing I need to do is “LOOK AROUND.” “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith.” Imagine standing on the 50 yard line of an NFL stadium or on the pitcher’s mound in a MLB park, while every seat is filled with God’s people cheering you on! Look around, God is cheering you on! I’m not alone, neither are you!
The next thing I need to do is “LOOK DOWN.” “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” Have you ever seen a track star leave her ankle weights or training gear on as she approaches the starting line? Of course not! The athlete will strip himself of any extra weight, any extra hindrance, or anything that will cause their performance to slack. They look down at their feet and make sure nothing is going to trip them up.
As a child of God, who is focusing on being like Christ, what is causing me to stumble? What is keeping me from my goal? What is evident in my life that needs to change? Is it bitterness, gossip, negative attitude, or a lack of integrity? Are these the things which entangle and trip me up! Strip it off, seek forgiveness!
Finally, and most importantly, “LOOK AT JESUS!” “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” From the day Jesus Christ entered this earth, born in a manger – to the day He was unfairly put on trial, beaten, and crucified…Jesus give us encouragement to live this faith! He is our mentor, the one we must focus on! When we look at Jesus, we are encouraged and enabled to keep on! “…then you won’t become weary and give up.” (Verse 3)
Endure the race, endure this season, and endure what is happening in your life by looking around, down, and focusing on our Champion Jesus Christ!
For more reading, check out Hebrews 12:1-3; James 1:12, I Peter 1:6