Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, October 20 - Play To Learn

“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, overflowing with thankfulness.” — Colossians 2:6-7

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Some years ago, the late Kobe Bryant was asked in an interview whether he was playing to win or just because he hated to lose. In response, he gave a very insightful comment regarding the attitude he brought to the court with him every day. He said, “I’m neither. … I play to figure things out; I play to learn something. Because, I think if you play with the fear of failure or you play with the will to win, or that supersedes your fear of failure, I think it’s a weakness either way. … Because if you play with the fear of failing, you’ll have the pressure on yourself … to capitulate to that fear; if you play with the sense of what I want to win, then you have the fear of what happens if you don’t. But if you find common ground in the middle — in the center — then it doesn’t matter … you’re unfazed by either, and that enables you to really stay in the moment … and not feel anything other than what’s in front of you.”

Wow. Some pretty deep perspective right there!

In reflecting on Kobe’s thoughts on this, we can see a very powerful Biblical principle at work here: If you live your life based around fear — fear of losing God’s love, fear of what happens if you don’t perform correctly, fear of failing and falling — if that’s where your focus is, you’ll always feel the pressure to keep above the proverbial “red line.” You’ll always be worried about what could go wrong or how you could mess up or miss out, even when things may be going well. Most of all, you’ll miss out on what’s happening in the present — how God is moving, how you are changing, etc.

But when you live to learn, to “figure things out” like Kobe said, there is no pressure. All situations are then opportunities for growing and becoming. You are then enabled to be in the moment and take in whatever it is offering you and see where it fits into your life moving forward.

This change of perspective has the ability to totally reshape how we look at whatever circumstances or experiences come our direction. We are freed to live fully in the present and glean from it as much as we are able. We are allowed to let go of those things that keep us in the house of fear, shame, striving, anxiety, blame, etc., and instead move toward the house of love, where God lives — treasured no matter what, chosen, holy, deeply loved, forgiven, hidden in Christ, made in His image, remade and redeemed, accepted, worthy, and given a new name.

Somehow, this realization helps us remember, in all situations, that no suffering we encounter, no sin we commit, no failing or falling of any sort, can separate us from God and how much He loves us (Romans 8:38-39). We can appreciate and embrace today, right here, right now, and take something instructive from it. We can play to learn.

— Katherine Singer

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