Tennis anyone? I’m no Maria Sharapova, but I do enjoy the challenge of hitting the fuzzy green ball over the net twice a week. I usually play against my husband and his friend, sitting out the first set before taking the two guys on in a friendly game of Australian doubles in the second set.
This week, while warming up for my battle of the sexes, it occurred to me that tennis provides some interesting metaphors for our Christian walk.
The set starts with love-love. Before we can accomplish anything for the Lord, we must have an attitude of love. In John 13:34, Jesus exhorts us to love one another as he has loved us. How do we love even the unlovely? Pray that we view God’s children as the Lord sees them and ask that we have a heart for them just like his.
We serve. We should put others before ourselves. Even Jesus, being God, humbled himself and became obedient to death. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3,4. How can we serve someone else today?
Second serve. I am thankful for the grace of God in our lives and grateful there are second chances. A friend of mine refers to God as the great recycler. No matter what our past, he can transform our trash into treasure. One of my favorite verses is Joel 2:25 that says, I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten. There were some locusts nibbling on my life for a number of years. What about you?
Keep the ball within the lines. When we become Christians, God writes his law on our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit’s soft whisper, he convicts us about the boundary lines we should not cross. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13.
The overhead slam. This is one of the most difficult shots to return. When we are mistreated or wronged, we should ask our omnipotent God, overhead, to fight our battle for us. Romans 12:19 encourages us, Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. Don’t seek revenge! Let the Lord have the winner!
Drop shots. Occasionally, there will be a ball you just cannot retrieve. No matter how fast you peddle your feet, you fall short because it’s impossible to pick up! It’s the same way in life, no matter how frustrated it is, we have to trust that we just weren’t supposed to get that job or make that move or meet that person. We have to accept the Lord’s plan for our life. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9.
The strings make a difference. The tension on the strings affects how much power you get with your racket. When a string breaks, you simply can’t use the racket anymore until you get it restrung. In the same way, Christians are all strung together as the body of Christ. When one part of the body doesn’t do its job, it affects the entire body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ 1 Corinthians 12:21. Conversely, when the strings are strung just right, you make a bigger impact with your ground strokes and volleys. We can make a larger impact for our faith if we utilize all the spiritual gifts in our congregation.
Game, set, match! Then there’s the victory. While I rarely win against the guys, I know that victory in my daily Christian walk is mine through Christ. Victory over sin, victory over negative thinking, and victory in the midst of difficult trials. I often repeat Philippians 4:13 to myself: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Whew! I am tired after today’s match. Lost again, but I look forward to what God shares with me on the court next time!