As another lacrosse tournament ended, our team won our final game in overtime. Our boys threw all their equipment in the air, as they should have, and I smiled. As fun as it was to see the joy in the boys’ eyes, I can remember four years earlier when I coached a different team and they lost on that same goal in five overtimes! I remember the tears shed and picking young athletes off the ground as they laid lifeless in shock over the defeat. These moments are special in a young player’s life, yet for me, the longer I live they become less of a mountaintop or valley experience as a coach.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren. Even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19
The longer I have walked with God, the more I have been aware that many circumstances in my life are not and may never be exactly the way I desire them to be. Like Habakkuk, life can seem barren or empty – “yet” we can still experience an abundant life. Our circumstances may not be the way we want them to be, “yet we can still rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God.”
This word “yet” changes the message from one of despair to one of hope as we realize that we can find strength and peace as we rejoice in Him. As a coach, my perspective has changed. The moments of joy that I experienced years ago on the same field – and those of great pain – have become less and less significant in light of my greater understanding of God’s perfect plan for me.
Maybe the reason the fig tree didn’t bud, and the crops failed was so that Habakkuk could receive joy from something that would never disappoint. When we put our hope in God and find our strength in Him, we can rely on Him to make us “…as surefooted as a deer and tread upon the heights.”
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.