Six years and 20 pounds ago I played my last game of racquetball.
Well, until last week that is! My friend, Kendall, has been trying to get me out on the court for a while, and we were finally able to get together. I will spare you the details of the hour on the court, but suffice it to say that I was quite sore when we finished.
And now, several days later, I'm even more sore! My whole body aches, actually!…but especially my racquetball muscles. You know, the ones you use to swing the racquet, twist to react quickly, and contort to reach the ball when it is just our of reach.
I am lamenting my long layoff from the game that I love. My muscle memory wasn't there. My reaction time wasn't there. My ball placement wasn't there. My conditioning wasn't there! Ugh!
The only things that were there? My love for the game and a willingness to endure the pain and shame of getting back into it. My love for racquetball compelled me…
I'm not sure why I quit playing. Maybe other things that seemed interesting distracted me. Maybe the cares of life and work became overwhelming for awhile. Maybe I got injured and just didn't pick it back up once I healed. I really can't remember.
Similarly, in my journey with Jesus, I have had lapses of time where I haven't cultivated my relationship with him. I love Him and I enjoy our time together, but for some reason or another, I find myself not spending time with Him…not "in the game."
Much of our spiritual journey is paralleled in the physical. Just like we have physical and spiritual senses, we also have physical and spiritual muscles that can either be exercised or allowed to atrophy. Scriptures tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is good." "He who has ears, let him hear," is another directive that Jesus spoke. Paul even tells us to run the race as if we are running to win the prize. These are just some of the everyday activities used to communicate eternal truth…
I could have let the embarrassment and shame be too much for me to get back on the racquetball court. I could have decided I'm just too old and out of shape. We sometimes take those types of feelings with us into our relationship with Jesus. But Scripture teaches "there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus" (emphasis mine). God isn't upset, angry, frustrated, or finished with you. In fact, he longs to spend time with you. Just like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, God is looking down that road waiting for us to come back. And what's more amazing is that He runs to us and embraces us and restores us. No condemnation…
So, if you haven't spent time with Jesus in awhile and you are feeling a little ashamed or out of shape or embarrassed, that's OK. It might even be difficult to get back into the swing of things, leaving your spiritual muscles sore and aching. Don't confuse difficulty with condemnation. If you're a follower of the Lord Jesus, He has given you a new heart and a new spirit. That new heart has new desires…His desires. Therefore we can get back into the game because "the love of Christ compels us."