Sometimes it’s tempting to just be an armchair Christian, a Christian commentator, or a spectator, because when you’re “in the game” you’re going to have moments where you goof up, and it never feels good. I was doing something a little out of my comfort zone, trying to do the right thing for the Lord, but I messed it up. My heart felt right, it’s just that things didn’t go right. I was deflated. Why do I always blow it? I thought. Chalk another one up to my awkwardness. “A” for idea. “F” for execution.
As I stood in the worship service that Sunday morning I was tempted to make everything about me- my failure, my wishing I could be better at stuff- which is not at all what worship is about. Worship isn’t about looking at me. It’s about seeing God and all that he is in spite of me- my sins and mistakes. It’s about noticing his perfection. And celebrating the fact that when we blow it, he’s still there, and picking up the pieces.
I had made a hustling mistake, that’s all. It happens. I just needed to do what good athletes do, and that is, let it go. Get up, dust myself off, remain focused, and move forward.
As I emotionally “dusted myself off,” I remembered how I used to be a referee instead of a player. How I sat back, watched what others did on the field, judged them, and called infractions. I was good at that. But, it wasn’t my job. And one day the Lord let me know that I was to stop judging what everyone else was doing and get in the game. Because my team needed me to be a player.
And so I’m learning that when you’re in the game, as much as you want to, you just won’t play perfectly. Baseball players strike out. Football players fumble. Basketball players miss the net. And so do Christians. We will foul someone, we will sin, and we will make hustling mistakes, but we have to get over it. And we do that through the cross, which is the key to being a good player and staying in the game. We will never outgrow our need for it. When we drop the ball, we have to turn to the cross and apply Jesus grace to the situation.
As I processed these things, my gaze shifted from my imperfect self to my perfect Heavenly Father. I imagined him looking down at me and smiling. Smiling because I was trying to do what pleased him, and had a heart to play. I wasn’t looking at my failure anymore or thinking about what others might think. I was looking at God, my Coach. I felt he had called me aside to say, “Thanks for stepping up and giving it a go. Now let it go. Trust me. Enjoy me. Know that I take delight in watching you play. Don’t give up. Keep doing your best. Thanks for being on my team. And remember, whatever happens, we do win this thing.”
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV