While this post was written for CHSM athletes, it would be terrible to not share this great insight with everyone. I hope you enjoy this incredible challenge to "Level Up".
If someone asked you what it means to “level up”, what would you say? Some, if not most, would probably talk in video game terms and say that to level up means that you have earned enough points or credits to take on new missions or possess new and better attributes. It means that you have “paid your dues” - you have fought well - and now you are ready to take on tougher challenges. Think about that for a minute.
Now let’s switch gears for a second. All year the leadership at CHSM has been talking about how we should “strive for excellence”. To strive, quite literally means, to fight…and not just fight, but to fight hard. The Greek word for strive is “agonizomai” – “to engage in intense warfare or battle”. Wow…look at that word again, “agonizomai”. It sounds a lot like “agonize”, doesn’t it? And look at its meaning again, “to engage in intense warfare or battle”. So what if we change the phrase up from “strive for excellence” to “agonize for excellence”? Or how about we say it this way, “To engage in intense battle for excellence”? YIKES! That is far more meaningful, don’t you think?
Let’s go back to video games now and start putting these thoughts together. There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours upon hours in order to “level up”, only to find out that you’ve been fighting the wrong battles all along. Have you been there this year? Maybe it’s worse than that, maybe you KNEW what battles you should have been fighting, but were avoiding it because you were trying to find a short cut. Now, you are frustrated and have to make the decision - do you quit or do you engage in the right fight? Do you throw the game away and say, “It’s a stupid game anyways”? Or do you dust yourself off, gear up, and head straight into the battle that you were intended to fight all along?
Some of us think that we have “strove for excellence” very well this year, but consider this – if the fight wasn’t intense, was it really striving at all? Maybe you think that because you are one of the top players on your team that you “strove for excellence” this year because you worked hard at home all season long. Well, maybe your “battle for excellence” had nothing to do with your skill development at home but it did have to do with your team development at games and practice. Leadership and character - not basketball - was the battle that God intended for you to fight this year but did you fight it? For some of you it was basketball related. Maybe you were told to get tougher, practice your free throws, play lower, box out, etc. Did you fight that battle? Or were you comfortable in the skills you already had and didn’t think it was necessary to “agonize for excellence” in a way that your coaches said would help you to “level up”?
Now you might think that it’s silly to invoke God into video games or basketball games, but let me tell you this – life is a game, and it's a very serious game. You get to live it once - and only once. Don’t you think that God takes the game of life seriously? He does, and that is why he says in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” You should go back and read the rest of this sobering verse, but I can tell you that God takes life seriously. He shows it is serious when He gives you a challenge in order for you to grow spiritually. And He doesn't take a straw poll to see if we think it is necessary or not. He just gives it, without your input or recommendations, and He expects you to take it seriously. By the way, He won't give you a "new mission" or "new and better attributes" until you do.
We are less than 6 weeks from State, and 8 weeks from Nationals and I know that we have a lot of players who are disappointed with how their year has gone so far. Teams have under-performed - maybe some of your teammates have. Maybe you think the coaches keep making the wrong decisions (we are human, too, you know). You keep losing games that you should have won. Or maybe you are playing against teams that you have no chance against in the first place. But let’s put that behind us now, and instead let’s ask ourselves this – “Have I been missing, or avoiding the battle that God intended for me to fight this season, all along?”
We all have a choice to make now. For some of us, it’s mental, for some, it’s physical, but in the end it’s all a spiritual. Philippians 3:14 says, “I press (strive) towards the mark (goal) for the prize OF THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD in Christ Jesus”. God’s calling is always a call to battle, both spiritual and physical – and that is the choice that lies before us now. Will you continue avoiding the battle God has called you too this season? Or are you willing, for the next 6 to 8 weeks, to “agonize for excellence” in order for you to “level up”? It doesn't matter if you lose every game from here till the end of Nationals but it does matter if you fight the battles that God has called you to, starting today. If we do this, I think we will all be able to say at the end of the year that we had a winning season!