I’m nervous. My oldest son is getting ready to start his first basketball season at the junior high level and it might as well be the Olympics I’m so pumped! However, I have a love-hate relationship with basketball games.
I love the sport. I love the game I played for ten seasons and can hardly wait for my son to take the court. But . . . watching . . . ugh . . . it’s just not the same as playing.
I’m a complete mess in the stands. Emotionally, it’s a very unstable situation and occasionally my passion, well, let’s just say it spills out. My husband is much more a fan of the game than he is of sitting next to me in the stands.
You can imagine.
Even after all these years out of uniform, I still want to play. It’s just in me. Yes, I understand I am a middle-aged mother of three who would pass out after two trips down the court, but that knowledge does not negate my experience, nor does it squash my desire. I guess all I can say for myself is that because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be in the game, it is quite a challenge to sit on the sidelines.
If you’ve never played, I don’t know if you can relate.
I believe humans are hard-wired for passion. For fire in the soul. For zealousness. Like, as crazy as it makes me, it feels good to care so much. Is there anything in your life that has grabbed your soul in such a way that you MUST participate? You can’t hold back. You can’t ignore what’s happening. You can’t help yourself?!
Sometimes I look around the game of life, church and Christianity, and I wonder if we’ve missed something? As I closely study Jesus’ earliest followers, I recognize a difference in intensity between those who observed Christ, who watched him love and serve and heal and forgive and teach and those who experienced — personally — who He was.
Who he still is.
The Apostle Peter is a perfect example. At Jesus’ command, the man walked on water. Read that last sentence again:
A mortal man stepped out of a boat in a windstorm and strode across wafting, cold, potentially engulfing and very deep water!
After that experience, Peter was never the same. He didn’t morph into perfection, but he most certainly became increasingly passionate. My point is, there is a big difference between observing who God is and experiencing God.
So maybe ask yourself, “Am I experiencing God or just observing?”
It’s a huge question. My hope is that you and I will do what it takes to build a real and personal relationship with Jesus so that we are experiencing more and more of who he is and thereby increasing our passion for God and God’s kingdom.
I never would have expected playing time on the court had I not spent countless hours in the gym with a basketball in my hands. There are no shortcuts. If we want to experience who Jesus is and all that he has for us, then we must put in quality time and effort:
* Regularly attend a church where Jesus is primary.
* Build close relationships with people who truly worship Him in word and deed.
* Study the life of Jesus from the holy Scriptures.
* Talk to Him.
* Believe in Him.
* Praise Him.
* Trust Him.
* Obey Him.
Get out of the boat.
All I know is, just like with basketball, once you’ve experienced what it’s like to be in the game, nothing else will do. Knowing God is at work all around you and having first-hand experience of his love, provision, protection, deliverance, guidance, purpose and grace isn’t something you just get over.
You can’t stop wanting to be part of his plan and part of his kingdom. It’s no longer acceptable to sit on the sidelines and watch God’s kingdom grow. You want in the game.
Good news: the only way you get sidelined in Christianity is by choice.
Huh. Perhaps as I nervously munch my popcorn and fight the urge to yell at people this basketball season, I’ll keep that wonderful truth in mind and redirect my passion to what matters most: experiencing Jesus. One game at a time.