You’ve been gifted, you work hard, you push through pain, you put in the extra hours, and you give your all.
In the multitude of things that could define you, I hope that someone has invested these truths into your life.
Amy Carmichael said, “There are two things that are eternal: the word of God and the souls of men.” As you seek wisdom to run the race God has called you to, you need to know Truth, the person who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus Christ is your foundation. What His word says about you is eternal truth. Let Truth ground you, identify you, and equip you for life.
#1. Your value isn’t based on your performance, but on a person.
It’s so easy to find identity in the loudest voices, the cheering/taunting crowd, in a dream – even in the title athlete. However, your true identity is much, much more.
If you have surrendered your life to Christ, His word tells us that you are complete in Him (Col. 2:10). Whether you shine as an athlete or you are on the struggle bus for a time, your soul and spirit can fly free knowing there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). You are an overcomer because the life of THE Overcomer lives in you. The freedom of the Christ life is that HE has promised to complete the work He began in us. We no longer find identity in the external, but on the finished work of Jesus. Ephesians 1:4 says that after true salvation you are holy and blameless before Him. It’s a sure thing – our behavior will be conformed to the new creation we have become.
You have been CREATED with an eternal purpose by an all-knowing Father. On the court and way beyond, the uniqueness of you will have influence. God created you as woman. When He finished His creative work, making you distinctly different from man, He said, “It is good!” As a woman athlete you’ve had to learn to toughen yourself to the hits. You’ve learned to absorb pain. So what does it look like to be a woman athlete? Is the world’s calling to be strong, to be heard, the same calling as your perfect creator God? The key to this answer is to think Biblically, not culturally.
- God created you to depend on Him
- God created you to love as He loves (in word and deed, with wisdom and grace)
- God created you for His glory and to make His glory known to others
- God created you to reflect His image through all you do
Actions have consequences, words have meaning. There are no small decisions in the Lord. Choose wisely.
You have been CALLED to a kingdom work by an all-sufficient Father. The gifts and talents you possess are gifted with purpose – to know Him and make Him known. The game isn’t the end-game.
Your heart is COURTED by the Lover of your soul. His pure love is what enables you to love others, to view the opponent not as the enemy, but as a valuable soul.
You’re never in this race alone.
#2. Never judge success by results – only by obedience.
As an athlete you strive for the W. Stats are compiled, averages matter, and playing time is earned. However, as you live life for an audience of One, your ultimate success is in seeing the long-term game plan. Your success comes from a heart, surrendered to Christ, dependent on His sufficiency, driven by love to run the race with passion, integrity, and faithfulness.
#3. You aren’t ever “just” a benchwarmer.
We all have seasons of life. Each season brings with it opportunity for growth. As we are all part of the body of Christ, and each member has a vital role, you too are vital. Learn from the seasons. Whatever season you find yourself in, be a life for others. Cheer regardless of who gets the praise.
What you do in private is the foundation for the public. Character is built when no one is watching. Joshua of old had the wilderness time to observe, grow, trust, and prepare for leadership. Paul spent three years being taught before he became the voice to the gentile church.
Your time in the Word is so essential in the quiet times of life because there will be battles. Game time is not the time to wing-it. When you have to make quick decisions on and off the court, let them come from a life spent in learning.
The off season is preparation time – prepare well.
#4. Setbacks aren’t forever.
Each day brings new grace, open doors, and hope. You have survived EVERY hard circumstance so far. Know that a setback is time to step back and refocus. Learn to give thanks in the hard times. Learn to look for the good rather than becoming a victim of bitterness.
God is in the business of turning ashes into trophies of grace.
#5. Learn defense but live to score.
In life, you have to know when to say no and where to set healthy boundaries. But remember that in Christ you start from a place of victory. He has overcome, and His life is in you. Your enemy is defeated. When you hear whispers of defeat or you’re in the midst of a battle, KNOW that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. KNOW that you have been made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 2:20.) Colossians 1:22 says that in Christ you are holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. Use those tools to stand strong. Christ in you – the greatest gift we have. Live out of your identity. Live to score, to gain ground. Be known for what you are for more than what you are against.
#6. Let your game be huge!
Let your vision and life be huge – bigger than the moment, bigger that the sport. You are equipped by our mighty God who knows the stars by name, knows the hairs on your head (or ponytail). He KNOWS you! He knows all of your tomorrows
Live each moment with boldness, daring to trust fully, love freely, dream big and choose to be light.
Ephesians 2:19 says that in Christ we are (present tense) a member of God’s household. Your belonging is sure. Your name is righteous and this earth journey is preparation to reign.
If you find yourself saying, “It’s good enough” know that there is more. The adventure is before you, God is within you, and you are equipped with everything you need to join Him in His kingdom work on the court and off.
Written by: Sheila Danuser
Sheila is from South Carolina and serves in ministry with her family: Matt, Emily, Grace, Hannah, and Mariah.
3 Instant Joys:
- “Family… well, the Lord, gotta put that in there.”
- And snow days are the best.
- Hosting people
- Book of Daniel, he was a man of purpose.
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