2002-06-07 - Get in the Game
I recently attended a softball game with two friends - a skilled young shortstop on one of the teams, and her dad. When one of her teammates was running around the bases, she slowed down to see what was happening to the ball. The coach reminded her, "Don't watch the ball; watch ME!" If she allowed herself to be distracted by what was happening in the outfield, she might not make it to "Home Plate" before being tagged out. She needed to keep her focus on following the Coach. He would lead her Home.
Likewise, at times, we get pulled off focus by our circumstances and our frantic schedules. Our focus needs to be on our Lord and not what is happening around us. Sometimes in the midst of a very difficult situation, we start feeling overwhelmed, or think we have to handle things alone. We forget that we have a limitless Source of strength Who wants to bear our pain and our anxieties. God never intends that we shoulder alone, all that life throws at us.
1 Peter 5: 7-8 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. New American Standard Bible : 1995 update.
I like the NASB's rendering of this. Note that we are to "cast" our cares on Him. It doesn't say we are to give them to Him with a half-clasped hand (as I sometimes do). Rather, this is a picture of us letting go of them completely and throwing them at God. To me, it's one of the most liberating passages in the Bible, yet at the same time one of the most difficult ones to live out. But if we just keep our eyes riveted onto God, He will lead us Home, now and forever.
Along the sidelines of a softball game, one hears all manner of comments. From some coaches and parents like my friend, can be heard encouraging shouts that affirm what the players are doing right: "Good eye!" "Way to go!" "Great throw!" Faces light up with big smiles after hearing comments like these, and the players are inspired to reach even higher, giving it their best.
But on the flip side, one also hears disparaging comments that tear down the players' self-esteem. Isn't that much like the church? Some Christians follow Paul's admonition to build each other up -- strengthening, encouraging, inspiring, supporting, affirming what is good. Others seem to think the best way to help someone is to tell him or her - along with others - all they are doing wrong. "That music is too modern (or not modern enough)." "The sermons are too liberal (or too conservative)." "So-and-so spoke too long."
There is, of course, a time and place for gentle confrontation, if the matter relates to an actual sin. But that adjective "gentle" is vital. It's been said that the only army that shoots its own wounded, is the Christian family. Sad but true. I have heard too many people say they wouldn't dream of sharing their difficulty with their church family - divorce, broken relationship, straying child, work problems, you fill in the blank your emabarassing problem - because of a fear of judgmentalism, and a lack of acceptance. That's so sad, and falls so short of what God intends for the church.
Our Coach puts together teams of Christian families, and expects us to cheer each other on, praying, supporting and loving each other.
Do you catch yourself finding fault with others often, or are you an encourager who builds people up? Do you keep your eyes fastened on our Coach?