It was perfect football weather—for me anyways. It was a little warm for almost everyone else. My son’s game was about to start, and I was only half listening to what the coaches were saying as they led the team through warm-ups. Then something caught my attention. As I looked around trying to figure out what it was, I couldn’t help but notice this cheeky little band of third graders. They were coming off a big win, their first, and their strut said it all, “We’re awesome, and we know it!—Clap your hands!!”
Then one of the coaches piped up: “Yes, you had a great win! An awesome win! You played well. But if you aren’t consistent with the fundamentals of football—you will lose this game and all the others. So we must remember the fundamentals. Practice the fundamentals. And use the fundamentals.”
As he proceeded to walk the slightly humbled team through the fundamentals—again, God spoke to my heart: “How are you doing with the fundamentals?”
I write devotionals and am writing my first Bible study. I’m in The Word all the time—to write about it, to teach it, to obey His call on my life. BUT my consistency with being in His Word for the sheer joy of spending time with my Savior and deepening my relationship with Him needs some work. I confess I get caught up in the “To Do” that I repeatedly neglect the “MUST Do.” There are too many times I’m not giving Him my best during my Quiet Time—I’m distracted, unfocused, waiting to cross another thing off my list.
And I wonder why my victories are so inconsistent. I wonder why my insecurities are having a hay-day. I wonder why life’s battles have the upper hand. It’s because I’m neglecting the fundamentals of feasting on God’s Word, praying like my life depends on it, making sure my Armor is in place, and asking the Spirit to fill and empower me. The thing is, I know better! I know this is dangerous and unhealthy. I know this sets me up to lose. But I do it anyway. Sometimes it’s because I’m in a mood and don’t want to give it up, where other times, I’m selfish and lazy.
Like this band of third graders, when I come off a big Spiritual win, I tend to strut with my shoulders back, chest out, and chin held high. I too get cheeky and figure: I’ve got this. I don’t need no stinkin’ fundamentals. I’m awesome, and I know it!—Clap your hands!!
But what I don’t realize is that “victory” may have been a test of The Enemy to gauge my strengths and weaknesses. It’s about as meaningless as a pre-season game. Its purpose was to determine the best strategy to take me out. It wasn’t a battle at all. The real battle is about to begin.
Satan is trying to trip us up all the time. He works to infect our hearts and minds with doubt so we’ll question God’s existence, promises, power, and our salvation. Therefore, just like football players who must practice and practice and practice the fundamentals of the game—we must do the same. Spend time alone with God daily devouring His Word and engaging with Him in prayer. Give Him your best. Eliminate your distractions. Make sure your armor is in good repair and in place (Eph. 6:10-18). Then we will be strong in the Lord, mighty in His power, and able to stand firm against all of Satan’s schemes (vs. 10-11). But remember, it all starts with the fundamentals.