I don’t know where all this will lead, likely nowhere, but I thought I’d give a go at posting some of what God teaches me on this journey called life. This is really just a way for me to remember the lessons, and if you can benefit from it too, then God gets the glory…so here goes.
I’m a church-planter. For those that may not know what that is, we have started a new church in an area where nearly 70% of the population doesn’t go to church anywhere and many of those have never had a relationship with God. We don’t plan for this to be the only church we start either. However, church-plants are not always financially stable enough to support a pastor full time. So, I’m also a school teacher. I teach middle school chorus in the same school my church rents on Sundays.
Because I can’t seem to say no (maybe I should write a post on what the Bible says about that too), I also coach the girls basketball team. This season we had a great team that truly pulled together to do something special. No, we didn’t win a championship, but we came so very close. We were both regular season, and tournament runner-ups. I continue to learn many lessons about life and leadership from coaching, but a lesson I learned years ago hit home in a profound way last week as we prepared to play in the championship game.
Though I’ve been on some pretty good, even undefeated, teams, I’ve never actually played in/prepared for a championship game. It was unlike anything I could have imagined emotionally. Here you’ve worked for months for a common purpose, spent all this time together, and now you get to practice together one last time before the big game. Everything that you’ve done during the season has led to this point, and now you’re reviewing everything you’ve done to get ready. We even added a few new wrinkles to make ourselves better those last couple of days.
The feelings I had the night before the game and then even on game day itself were surreal. It felt so strange. I remember telling my wife that it felt so weird to know that you’d done all you can do and now you just have to sit back and let the game happen. It was out of my control. I couldn’t add to or take away from anything we’d done to prepare, and nothing I could do would make us any more or less ready to play the game. The game was judgement day on whether that preparation was enough to beat the other team and win the championship.
On the way to the game, I had an overwhelming sense of dread. Would all the good we’d done, all the hard work be enough? Then it hit me like running headlong into an inanimate object…WHAT IF I HAD TO FACE DEATH WITH THAT SAME FEELING? I was suddenly overwhelmed by the grace of God in a palpable way. We don’t have to live life hoping that the good we do adds up to enough when we meet our God. In 1 John 5:13, the apostle John utters the most comforting words one could hear, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, NLT).
How amazing it is that we don’t have to question whether what we’ve done here on earth will be enough to get us into heaven or not! In fact, we’re actually promised we can NEVER do enough good to make the result of our life amount to anything more than deserving eternal separation from God. Paul said it this way, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT).
It may not have been a new lesson, but it sure was a great reminder that we don’t have to approach the end of our time here on earth with anxiety. That’s a great lesson for the journey…