“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 – NKJV
Did you know that 51 times in the New King James Version of the Bible the exact phrase “do not fear” is found? Did you know that another 50 times in the New King James Version of the Bible the exact phrase “do not be afraid” is found? Did you know that another 10 times in the New King James Version of the Bible the exact phrase “fear not” is found?
If your coach asks you to run one time in practice, do you think he is serious about you running? What if your coach asks you to run two times in practice after not running the first time, do you think he is serious now? What about three times? Or how about 111 times!?! This is exactly what God has asked of his people in regards to fear yet many of us have yet to take him seriously enough to trust and believe His words. We are still afraid in many areas of our life and there may be no area of life where we are more afraid than in the world of sports.
In addition to my full time job as an Area Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Western Nebraska, I am an assistant tennis coach for the boys and girls tennis teams at Scottsbluff High School. The more time you spend with the athletes on these teams the better you get to know them and you learn more about their personalities, motivations, values, likes, dislikes, etc. You also learn and are able to see right through the front a lot of them will put up about how much they are hurting inside. Maybe they have a poor family situation, or maybe they have a sinful relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or maybe they cannot hit a backhand to save their life! Or maybe, for their whole life, they have been flat out afraid and they don’t know any other way to live. Granted, many of the circumstances I listed above contribute to this life of fear but non the less, fear is the end result. And for most of them, if they have never read the Bible, would have no clue that the New King James Version of the Bible commands them 111 times not to fear.
It is heart wrenching to see young athletes struggle is this area with no clue about the abundant life that Jesus has promised them in John 10:10. This isn’t a life that is easy but it is a life that is most importantly glorifying to God and also a life that is more satisfying than any life that could possibly be lived. The problem is that many of these athletes have not accepted the fact that Jesus is Lord of their lives and they continue to live their life their own way…in fear. And yes, many of them have heard about their need for Christ because of their sin…That Jesus died a brutal death on the cross to take the punishment for the sin that you and I have committed and that He rose from the dead to give us a chance at hope for victory in His eyes. God’s grace is truly amazing yet many of us continue to reject this free gift and believe we are fine living life on our own, doing whatever comes naturally which most of the time is sin and rebellion against God.
What I can’t wait for is the day that I see even one of the athletes I coach “get it”. And yes, it gives me great joy to see them actually hit a backhand correctly, but my hope and prayer is that they are able to hit that backhand out of the freedom from fear and sin they have found in God’s grace and their need for Him. There is nothing in coaching and life that is better than that. And if that simple thought fills my heart with as much joy as I feel right now just thinking about it, how much more joy must God feel when he sees one of his kids hit a backhand and do life for His glory?