Mark Affleck

Are You Showing Up For Practice, Or Just On Game Day?

April 10, 2017
Spiritual Growth

“Game Day” is special for any athlete. It is where we experience the ultimate high points of the activity and our passion. For Christians, game day is on Sunday at church or during the few-and-far-between spiritual highs on the “mountaintops” of our journey with Christ.
Of course these game days are blessings from our Father in Heaven. They’re great! But it cannot be game day every day. In fact, we put ourselves in danger if we suspend our spiritual growth in between the exciting peaks of our walk with God.
Focusing on spiritual game days can provide a false sense of security that just showing up at church once a week will be enough to live a spiritually mature and purpose-driven life. But if we take that head fake, we mistakenly believe that the day-to-day practicing of our faith is irrelevant and everything will work out just fine in the game of life under our own power.
God warns us to be cautious about waiting for game-day mountaintops in our Christian walk. Instead, he wants us to remain perpetually connected to him and maintain an intimate and fruitful relationship.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11
A good example of this imperative to maintain connection with God can be found in married couples who do not spend time together and only unite for major events. Traveling that dangerous road means they will not develop a healthy and truly intimate relationship. A healthy marriage requires that they put in the time to connect, talk, trust, experiment, regroup, and love. I make this point without equivocation because I have seen it and felt it in my almost 40-year marriage to Cindy. It’s true. And it’s also true of church on Sunday or occasional spiritual retreats. They are great, but the blessings will always be fleeting.
Reaching this vital goal of staying connected to God in between our spiritual game-day highs, does not come from merely trying hard and declaring, “I must do these ‘God things’ because they are right and they are what Christians are supposed to do.”
That approach may show gumption, but things in “real life” just don’t work out that way. Instead, God wants us to seek a “right relationship” with him and spend time in his Word in order to continually discern where we are and where he wants us to go. And that’s day in and day out, not just on game day at church or on a Christian retreat.
Remember, we rarely fall away from God in one jump. It’s more like a drift that starts with our own “wandering” that has us end up at the wrong destination if the drift is not interrupted. Just ask the pilot who lands at the wrong airport after making a very small mistake in the flight plan.
That’s why our faith must extend beyond game day.

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