Summer 2024

Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Wednesday, November 4

“I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.” — Hosea 2:17

High Places

As I was beginning to read through the book of Hosea, I came across some pretext that shared, “People easily turned to other gods, especially Baal.” Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the Old Testament because it was so long ago that the question rises, “How is this relevant to the present time?” Well, to this day, the world is actively seeking fulfillment and joy in places that are not God. When a part of your life takes up the time and attention that God desires, to fill that portion (whether sinful or not) becomes an idol.

Hosea 2:8 says, “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold — which they used for Baal.” Nowadays, our idols don’t always look like gold, silver, food and wine (even though sometimes they do). However, they take the shape of fame, money, wealth, influence, career, relationships, sports and entertainment. Yes, I said it — sports.

When the global pandemic began in March, sports shut down indefinitely; sports were canceled like dominoes, one falling after the other. Many people were affected. I’m not saying that God sent the pandemic and wanted all sports to stop. I’m not God, His ways are not my ways and I’m not going to pretend I know exactly what He’s doing. However, I am seeking the ability to discern His voice. One area of discernment I heard clearly was the truth that society puts sports in a high place.

Visualize for a moment the way that fans worship star players. Oh, how great it is to get a single autograph or photo with your favorite player. Let’s not forget the trophies. People work and wait their entire lives to win a piece of hardware, to get to the top and realize this too is fleeting.

Being a former student-athlete and current athletics employee, what I realized is that without sports Jesus is enough. Jesus was and is the new wine, the fresh oil, the gold and silver. We do not find ultimate satisfaction in a ball (or Baal). For so long, I put my focus, attention and commitment in a game. Whether it was in my career or as a player, athletics held a high place in my life. God had to cancel this idol for me to realize its presence and consumption.

“I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.” — Hosea 2:17

Sports are not a bad thing; in fact, sports are an avenue and vessel that God uses to reach His people. Humans love athletes, teams, fantasy leagues, competition and winning. Oftentimes, that love for sports can be used to reflect Christ’s love for us (a love that triumphs all). As much as sports have shaped me to be the woman I am today and as much joy as the game brings me, I must constantly make sure that sport is not an idol.

Once we come to terms with acknowledging areas in our lives that have taken attention away from the Lord, the next step is to repent with an earnest heart.

“Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.'” — Hosea 14:2

“People will dwell again in His shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine — Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.” — Hosea 14:7

It’s simply realizing that we even need to know the place of sports in our lives, and that nothing can ever compare with God. When we repent, turn back to God and ask Him to transform our minds and hearts, we will be renewed by His life-giving Spirit. What idols has God made known to you in this season? What steps are you taking to turn and seek God first?

— Karlie Smith

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