I have had the opportunity to play basketball every week for the last 2 months. After not playing regularly at all for the better part of two years due to my back surgery and working on my Master’s degree I finally feel like I have knocked all of the rust off of my game. People who have played sports know what I am talking about; those who have not played just don’t understand and look at me like I am a little bit crazy when I talk about finally having my feet under me, regaining the “touch” for the passes behind the back or between the legs, and scooping and spinning the ball high off of the glass just outside of the defenders’ outstretched arms. It is good to be playing again.
For all the years that I have played I have always played “in the paint.” I have always taken the ball strong to the basket in a reckless fashion, crashing the boards to get rebounds whenever anyone else put up a shot and the ball has often ended up in my hands when the game was on the line. I never did shoot much from the outside. Sometimes I would put up a pull up jumper from the lane or bank shots from the side but I never did consistently shoot from what I would “the outside.” As a result of my style of play I have hit the floor many times over the years and I have taken some self-inflicted bumps and bruises. Because I am not as quick as I used to be and because I do not recover from the bumps and bruises as fast, I have been working on changing my style of play. I have been practicing shooting from beyond the arc; I have been working on my 3 point shot. Yesterday during warm ups I made 20 three pointers in a row! Despite the success I was having with “shooting the threes” during warm ups, when we started the full court 4 on 4 games, I went back to my old style of play. Once the game started, when the pressure was on and people were waiving their hands in my face there I was running the floor, mixing it up in the paint. I had to force myself to move outside a few times to take some shots. I hit a couple and I missed a couple but before you know it, I was back in the lane going back to what I have done for the last 40 years. It is what I know. I think it is like that for us in our spiritual life as well. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:8
Eph 5:8 You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Sometimes we get in the game of life and some pressure comes and we go back to what we know. We go back to what we have done in the past. Everybody struggles with this sometimes. Even the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15 that he did not do the things he wanted to do but found himself doing the very things he hated. If we are honest, all of us can relate to that. Despite our desire to do something new, something better, we fall back to our old ways. We resort to coping mechanisms that have gotten us through tough times before. Some of those ways are appropriate, some are not. We must never forget in the midst of the game, in the flow of life that we are children of the Light. We are children of the Lord. The Lord desires to teach us to grow and to learn better ways to play. He desires to give us the strength and the confidence to put them in to practice in the heat of the game. He desires to help us to live and to love in a way that will not leave us with self-inflicted bumps and bruises.