“Watch out that you do not lose what we worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” — 2 John 1:8
We’ve seen the scenario play out so many times in athletics — a team is up by several points and is trying to finish off the game. In baseball, the closer is out in the ninth inning, or in basketball, the final free throws are being shot. In football, it’s the field goal or touchdown pass to seal the win, or in the case of an individual sport like tennis, they are up with a chance to close it out on their racket. Whatever the case, the player or team that’s leading looks to have the victory in the bag but … they cannot close it out. They choke.
The closer can’t locate his pitches or he walks or hits batters to load the bases with no outs. The shooter misses his or her free throws and the tennis player loses serve. Suddenly, the whole game or match has changed, and the victory is in doubt. Perhaps the other teams strings a few points or runs together and steals the win. Or the opponent finds a way to grab the match or at least even the contest and force a deciding set. If we’re on the side of the team or athlete that was leading, we groan. If we’re on the side of the underdog, we urge them on. That’s what makes sports exciting. It’s unpredictable. But when it counts, we expect the team or player we want to win to shut things down and close it out.
And yet, perhaps we’re not as quick to notice that the same can be said for us in our journey of faith. We’re all in a game called life, and it’s just as unpredictable as the sports we cheer for. There are momentum changes and challenges and things to overcome. There are great highs as well as great lows and somehow, through it all, we’re expected to close with Christ. To finish well so that He may one day say to us, “Well done” (Matthew 25:21).
But the truth is, there are times we choke, too. The pressure gets to us, and we say things, do things, think things that are not godly. We let the circumstances affect our focus on the Lord, and we get distracted. Perhaps we get too confident in our own ability to seal the deal and pride comes before a fall. Sometimes we turn our back on Him altogether.
It’s easy to commit to and follow Him when we’re winning at life and things are going great. But do we stay in the arena and keep fighting even when we blow it? Do we close with Christ even when things get hard and we mess up greatly?
God is faithful to forgive us and love us through it all. Unlike sports, where we’re stuck with a loss that can’t be reversed, God gives us another chance to get back out there and try again, so our falls are never final. Don’t lose what you’ve worked so hard for and give it all up when it counts most! Give yourself grace when you’ve choked, and always remember to keep striving to be a closer with Christ.
— Katherine Singer
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