I wonder how many negative thoughts bombard an athlete in the span of a two-and-a-half hour practice? Five? A dozen? For me, I’d put it in the hundreds. Maybe the thousands.
These are thoughts telling me that I’m not worth anything. That I’m failing. That I’ll never be more than a disappointment. Dragging me back to some terrible sin from my past.
Often I don’t even realize I’m having them. They’re so ingrained in my self-perception that I’ll find myself thinking one thing and a moment later, I’m spiraling into a hole so dark and deep I fear I’m lost, and alone, taken out of the game. They’re nothing more than Satan’s attempt to mar and destroy me, to make me ineffective for Jesus’s kingdom. So how do I stop them?
It isn’t a secret. My identity in Jesus Christ frees me. In Him, by Him, I am not bound by negative thoughts. I am free to be me. To keep going. To play hard. To have fun. To enjoy life. To finish strong.
Even though as an athlete I am attacked on and off the field, Jesus gives me the strength to believe that I can make a difference, that my life does matter, that I am full of talents and worth.
I struggle with sin. But Jesus Christ, crucified in me, by His grace makes me new, whose identity is not as an enemy of God, but of one forgiven by Him and set free. His sanctifying power wins the victory in me, in Him, for Him.
As Galatians 2:20 says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
So don’t quit. You’re a new person. A whole new set of rules apply to you: You are kind. You are giving. You forgive. You have joy. You are patient. You are compassionate. You are loving. And so on. In fact, you’re playing a whole new game that’s never before been played.
Even when you don’t feel like going on, don’t quit. We all have days when we feel awful. Some are worse than others. On those days when your whole identity to your core is shaken, remember that you don’t need to fight the battle that’s already been won at the cross. Jesus fought that for you. He’s right there with you, running with you, carrying you. And you and He are winning that game together!