Thursday, June 13, 2019
As a sophomore at Bethel College in St. Paul, I really wanted to play basketball. I had tried out for the college team as a freshman and made the team, starting several games, but my heart really wasn’t in it and I quit midway through the season. I was never an athlete that enjoyed training, but wanted the thrill of competition. I soon discovered that the thrill of playing was not what it should have been for me. Rather than it being an expression of who I was it became an attempt to earn favor from others. When I couldn’t measure up to the standards I had set for myself to validate myself, I quit.
The next year my brother came to college, and we started an intramural team to compete in the intra-school league. Not only did we have to play against other student teams, but we also had to play against the coaches of the team I had quit. I remember that first game with them. It was halftime, and we were losing. I was the tallest member of our team, and the head basketball coach at Bethel was 6’8”. Needless to say, I was not measuring up. I was not being aggressive, and the other team was winning the inside game. My brother came to have a talk with me and said, “John, your heart isn’t in it. You’re doggin’. You are better than him, and the team needs you to step it up.”
I decided right then and there that I would get with it. Not just for that game, but for my whole life. I decided that I would put my heart into everything I did. I played my heart out in the second half, and not only did we win that game, but we won a lot of games that year, and if my memory serves me well I believe we were the league champions. I concluded that serving self was not working and that serving others would be a much better way to live.
So what part of what my brother said really motivated me? It certainly wasn’t the criticisms. I just needed to hear that someone believed in me. I needed to know that I was accepted for who I was rather than for whom I thought I should be. And when I discovered that, I was able to put my whole heart into what I did. I still had a long way to go, and I still messed up in a lot of ways, but my journey of faith to serve God with my whole heart and soul began at halftime of a basketball game.
Deut. 10:12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to…serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
The God of all creation has singled you out to be a unique and precious part of His Son’s body called the church. You have been specifically equipped to serve Him by the Holy Spirit. He has poured out His love into your heart and accepted you and qualified you to be a partaker of the inheritance with all the saints in glory. You already measure up, and God believes in you because His Son lives in you. Give Him your whole heart and serve Him with all your strength.
There is a worship song that we sing that goes like this:
Lord, I give You my heart, I give You my soul,
I live for You alone
Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake
Lord have Your way with me.
May that be your prayer today and every day as you walk by faith.