0 In Faith/ Feast/ Friendship/ Parenting

Growth and The Game

Becoming. To come, change, or grow to be. This is us. No matter who we are or where we’ve been… we are always becoming. Maybe we are actively striving for who we desire to become. Maybe we are just getting by in the midst of unwelcome turmoil, hoping this hard season will bear fruit. Or just end. It will. Maybe we are stuck, unaware of merely becoming more of the same.

Regardless, we are always becoming something.

I was reminded of this process of becoming last weekend, at my son’s high school football game. Yes! We ARE going to go there. To the place where sports yields spiritual application. It’s fine. We will all be fine. Just roll your eyes and hold onto your chin strap… we can still be friends. 

A week ago, my high school senior man child and his fellow warriors faced their hometown rival, under the Friday night lights. After three years of losses to this football adversary, they dismantled that record. I don’t just mean they finally won the game, oh no! They left the turf that night with a 63-0 dominating victory… on their opponent’s home field scoreboard! Our entire football “family” cheered and cow belled our guts out amidst the heavy Houston humidity. Afterward, we raised a hallelujah and reached for our sweaty grass stained boys. We were proud mamas and papas. But there was a deeper joy welling up in this mama’s heart. One that came from watching, over the years, this process of my child becoming. Becoming more man and less boy. 

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The truth is, this team victory began years before, in the hard place of disappointment and defeat. But it birthed more that an upset on the field. The game was never the end goal. Nor the win. It was merely a really enjoyable milestone in their becoming. Along the way, those players grew and became more than just a boy who could shave and run the ball.

They became dedicated, not just in the weight room but to one another. They became willing… willing to take steps towards unity among their team, even when it required owning up or calling one another out. They learned to support their fellow mates through the good, the bad and the ugly. They became leaders, setting an example by their response to injury, loss, and unsportsmanlike opponents. They learned to be selfless; putting their teammates and coaches ahead of their own desires or what may have been an easier road. They learned the value of sacrifice; giving up sleeping late and showing up day after day to put in hard work. 

As I have prayed for my boys to grow into a man of grit and godliness, I have realized that God will provide experiences and adversity as tools to cultivate those qualities. And at times He will use a ball game.

Here is where the application lands for those boys to men. And you and I. God has set out for us to grow. To grow in our understanding of him and our impact on the world He created. To grow in our capacity to:

Use the gifts he has given us

Be honed by his word

Love others well

But… we have to be willing to trust him and… Do. The. Hard. Work. There are certain spiritual disciplines that will be necessary in our becoming. Ones that will produce growth in our lives resulting in God’s glory and our good.

Like those football players, we have some work to do. Listen friends, I need to pause right here. So that we don’t by chance wander off the reservation into a works based faith. To be clear, this is what I AM NOT saying…

I am not saying we are to earn God’s favor or his salvation. And I will never say following Jesus is in our own strength. 

Salvation and enduring strength are the unmerited FREE gifts of the saving grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Both from a loving God, graciously received by us when we choose to believe and follow Jesus. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

In the same way, those precious football players had nothing to do with being born into a time and place where they had the opportunity to play football. Nor were they responsible for earning their natural God given athletic abilities. Nor did they have any say in whether the family they’d be part of would have the means to send them to the school they attend and play the game they love. All God.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

Acts 17:26

However, those athletes have the choice whether to grow in those abilities and how they will use them. They have influence into what they do with what has been freely given to them.

The same is true for us.

Working out our salvation by engaging in spiritual disciplines and trusting God through the hard stuff, is our opportunity to make worthwhile what has been freely given to us to

…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

I Timothy 4:7-8

Bodies deteriorate but persons develop.

I love this quote from Tod Wagner in his sermon from The Porch… Discipline is the heavy door that leads to freedom.

Remember in our accomplishments, that there are greater goals at stake. Our life’s work is not just about what we do but who we become. Becoming takes utter dependance on God and solid discipline of our soul. What are we becoming? What kind of character is being sewn into our souls that will be far more valuable than winning a game, landing a promotion, acing a test, accumulating stuff, or gaining the world?

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Coming soon…

Part two: What are spiritual disciplines and how do I practice them?


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