I don’t mean in the academic sense—although, that’s true in the math department.
What I mean is, there are times my children teach me about being wise and resilient. About giving something my best effort, even if it’s a long shot. About putting myself out there to determine where I stand among the competition. About identifying my weaknesses so that I can refine them and be more successful in achieving my goals next time.
Tyler is a natural athlete. His strong athletic ability has enabled him to pick up any sport successfully. And though this has served him well over the years and allowed him to excel at every sport he’s played, it hasn’t encouraged him to focus in on any one sport. It hasn’t forced him to master the skills that separate the good athletes from the excellent ones.
Ty has become accustomed to choosing a sport, having me sign him up, being placed on a team, learning a few skills, and being one of the best players on the team. Then when that season was over, he moved to the next sport leaving that one behind.
This pattern is perfect for young kids, but as athletes mature they’re expected to specialize in one or two different sports, especially in larger schools. In smaller schools, going from sport to sport is a non-issue because there isn’t as much competition. But Tyler attends a large school where his freshman class numbers well over 500 students. In other words, the competition for a spot on any sports roster is fierce.
This came home last week when Tyler tried out for his 9th-grade basketball team. For weeks he practiced ball handling, shooting hoops, and passing drills. He played pickup games on open gym nights and gathered friends to practice at other gyms at other times. But it wasn’t enough.
In the pasts, this may have been enough to put him on par with his competition. But not anymore. He was going up against athletes who had been playing traveling basketball for years and participating in multiple basketball camps in the offseason. For these boys, basketball is life. They eat, sleep, and breathe basketball. Tyler doesn’t. Nor had he wanted to—until now.
When he found out 52 guys were trying out for 16 spots, he knew he was going to get cut. But he was okay with that and was still determined to give it his best. When he got cut, he found out he was ranked in the mid-20s, but not good enough for the team.
I asked him why he tried out if he knew he was going to get cut. He said he wanted to see where he measured up with the other guys and what his odds are of working hard and making the team next year. Then he said, “I prayed about it. I asked God to do what was His best for me. I gave it my absolute best. But several of the guys are better than me. So either God’s got something better, or He’s is telling me to get better. Either way, I know where my weaknesses are and some of the areas I need to improve. I need to pray about it though.”
My mouth fell open.
He blew me away with his wisdom and maturity. His assessment and response were spot-on. He was putting into action things I had been teaching him for years. I was quite proud of my son.
I know God has called me to write, and I’m doing everything I can to honor that call. But in the last few months, God has also been pushing me to speak. I wish I could tell you I met this push with the utmost faith and confidence, but I can’t. No, this girl was dry-heaving into her wastebasket trying to tell God He got the wrong number and to hang up and try again. Even now, when I think of standing on stage and talking, my throat tightens and sweat runs down my back. I say, “Yes, Lord,” with my mouth, but in my heart, I’m screaming, “I can’t do that!”
Then at youth group, I was asked if I wanted to speak—or better put, “When do you want to teach?”
I started shaking, everything inside of me wanted to scream out—NEVER, but Tyler’s words keep coming back to me—Pray about it. Give God my best. Discover where my weaknesses are and get better. Ask for God’s best for me and give Him my best.
As I prayed, I looked up verses on “God’s Call,” follow the link here. I didn’t get past the first few verses before I was on my knees:
‘For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.’ Romans 11:29
‘And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ‘ Romans 8:26-28
‘Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’ Matthew 28:18-20.
‘Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ‘ Ephesians 4:1
‘I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. ‘ 2 Timothy 1:5-9
Beloved, I have no ideas what God is calling you to, where He is leading you, and what He is preparing for you to do. And you may not be sure either. That’s ok. As Tyler says, Pray about it. Trust God. Ash for His best and give Him your best.
I’m going to speak to our youth group, and hopefully more than once. I’m going to step out in faith. I’m going to refine my skill in writing and speaking. I’m going to give Him my best because His gifts call can never be withdrawn. He will give me the confidence to master the skill and He will do the same for you.
Take a few moments and ask Him where He is leading you in general (big picture). If you already know, ask for direction for this year, this month, and today. Each step, each encounter, each bit of refinement takes you closer to the goal or enhanced where you are now. Ask for His best and give Him your best.
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