This past weekend, I was at a volleyball tournament. All three of my granddaughters have played volleyball, so for years I have been sitting in my fold-up chair watching them. It has been one of the great joys of my life.
I have watched them go from young, inexperienced players to young women who know the game and what it takes to win. Volleyball is a sport of teamwork, personal skill, rules, and good manners.
When you play volleyball for fun, it really is not as much about winning as it is about being together. When I get together with friends from the past and remember picnics and games, it is always more about the fun than the winning. There is a time for fun and a time to reach for the win. It depends on your primary purpose.
But there is a deeper side to life: making a difference that moves you toward a greater goal. Sports are very much about winning, being the best, taking home the trophy or medals.
In order to reach this level, you must be willing to practice, take instructions from the coach, and want to make your school or, in the case of the Olympics, your country number one. You have to want to win.
You know in every sport there are umpires and referees. They have the final say as to who gets the point. You have to honor their judgment, or you will get thrown out of the game and be disgraced.
You have to work as a team. It takes everyone doing their part and helping each other succeed.
As I watched the games yesterday, I realized our walk with God is very much like sports.
You have to know who is in charge. God created us, Jesus came to show us the way and die for us, and the Holy Spirit is with us and working through us each step of the way.
You have to take time to know the game. You have to listen, practice, and respect the Word of God.
You have to be a team player. In our walk with God, we must be willing to walk with others, to actually desire to help others succeed. It cannot just be about us. We must be willing to lay down our lives for each other and find joy in the journey.
The people on the sidelines make a difference too. We can scream and yell in a positive way that encourages all those around us, or we can become a very negative influence, not only to those around us but to the players as well. Even as “rooters,” we have the privilege of encouraging and even praying for those who are rooting with us in their personal and spiritual lives.
You have to want to win and take others with you to the victory podium, even if it means great personal sacrifice. Christ died for us that we might be with Him in heaven. Was it a difficult journey for him? Absolutely! But He did it because He loves us. We can do the same.
God uses everything to speak to us, if we are just paying attention.
We didn’t win yesterday, but as you can tell, I got some great life lessons from the game and the fellowship.