This is my first blog in exactly four months...
The NBA season is starting back up after being suspended since March 11 due to the pandemic. Sports fans have been restlessly itching for anything that resembles live competition. So, when the NBA decided it would resume the season, many fans and players wanted it to restart immediately. However, among all the logistics and safety precautions that needed to be ironed out, there was still one thing to consider: game shape.
Game shape is something that professional athletes talk about all the time. They may call it playing shape or even tailor it to their specific sport, e.g. football shape, basketball shape, fighting shape, etc. But regardless of how you phrase it, there's a certain shape that only comes from actually playing the game.
LeBron James is in phenomenal shape and probably works out daily, but there is no substitute for the conditioning that comes with actually being on the court and getting real reps. Players know when they are in game shape or not. The fatigue and stamina are different when you're in game shape. The timing and muscle memory are more keen. The mental focus and intensity are stronger. The cadence and chemistry with teammates are more synchronized. There's a certain rhythm and momentum that comes only with game shape, and you can feel the difference.
So, restarting the season is not as simple as grabbing a basketball and picking up where the players left off. In fact, some players said that they hadn't even touched a basketball during the lock down. There has to be time for the players to regain their footing and bring themselves back to where they need to be, both physically and mentally.
Even Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time, had to adjust to game shape after he retired to play baseball. He spent so much time conditioning for baseball that when he returned back to basketball, he didn't win the championship that season. That shows us that there are no exceptions to this rule.
So what does this have to do with a Christian blog?
Well, the reason why I haven't written a blog in four months is because I have not been in game shape. The Lord revealed that believers have a spiritual "game shape" just like athletes; and just like the players can feel when they are in game shape or not, believers can as well. We can feel when our prayers are not as passionate as they once were. We can feel when the praise and worship is not devoted as it can be. We can feel when something is competing for the time and attention that we give the LORD. We can feel when we are not as zealous about telling somebody... anybody who will listen, about Jesus.
It feels like you're in a dry season. It feels like you're in a wilderness. It feels like you're drifting. It feels like you are doing just enough to stay afloat to keep from drowning. In my case, I have enough spiritual muscle memory to go through the motions and still be used by God; just like I'm sure LeBron James can have a great game of basketball after not having played in months. However, our mentality should not be to do enough to get by because that eventually catches up with you. Championships are really won in crunch time of the 4th quarter. They're won in crucial playoff games. They're won when the odds are stacked against you and you've prepared yourself to be ready for anything.
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Paul told Timothy to be ready regardless of the season he's in. There's a lot that we can ask ourselves about readiness. If I have not been deeply abiding in the LORD, can I be ready if God wants me to deliver a bold message? Can I be ready if I need to pray for someone's healing? Can I be ready if I need to cast out a demon? Can I be ready to evangelize to a complete stranger who looks like he doesn't want to be bothered? We say that we want to be used by God, but are we really ready?
It may sound like I am putting too much responsibility on myself instead of the Spirit of God. I am not detracting from the power of God, but I am speaking about the consequences of not being plugged into that power. I'm actually highlighting the dire need to be in deeper relationship with God. One theme I have heard from many champions is the idea that championships are really won during practice and on the team bus where camaraderie and chemistry are built. It's the things that you do behind the scenes that show up when you need them. The same is true for believers. Bearing fruit and winning souls for the Kingdom of God (which is our championship) is really won in the prayer closet and through building a strong relationship with God.
All I know is that I want to be the best version of myself. I know my spiritually body just as well as I know my physical body and I can feel if I'm in shape or if something is off. I know that there is a level that I can reach because I have been there before, and I want it back. I want to delight in praise and worship. I want to search the scriptures diligently and become ecstatic when I get a revelation. I want to be on cloud 9 for the entire day when God speaks to me or gives me a confirmation. I want to leap for joy and run around because I can't contain myself. I want to be amazed!
Remember, the only way to get into game shape is to play the game and play it consistently. Greater is available to us. God loves when we delight ourselves in Him, but we have to decide to choose Him. It means having an intentional "yes" towards God and a "no" toward anything that is not of Him. For anyone who has felt like you have been idle or stagnant. God is waiting for you to pick up the ball and get back in game shape.
This generation is facing things that we have never seen in our lifetime. It's easy to get weary and feel like the task is insurmountable. However, God is building a generation of closers. The closer is the player that comes in the game right at the end. The coach puts them in during crunch time when you really need to pull of a victory. We already have the victory in Christ. God is just asking us to get in game shape and walk in it.
Ezekiel 37:3-5 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: