This past spring, Valor Christian girl’s basketball coach Jessika Caldwell led a small group of students from her 2016-17 team to Prague, Czech Republic to serve with Discovery and Athletes in Action. Coach Caldwell took a moment recently to share about the experience.
I have this vivid memory of a speaker I heard in college…he was holding up one of those paper plates used for picnics, the ones with the separators for each different type of food. He went on to explain that our lives often times reflect this type of plate: we take a little sports over here and a little studies over here and a little family over here and some faith over there. Each activity essentially operating in its own, carefully constructed place, not really mixing with the other parts of our lives. He then went on to hold up a regular paper plate, filling it full of food and I watched the beans spilling over into the bun of the hamburger and mixing into the potato salad. Maybe you have heard this analogy before, but this was probably the first time I was confronted with the idea that ultimately, our faith had to be in the center at all times, spilling over into every facet of our lives. Not only did this moment change how I saw paper plates, it changed how I saw my faith, my sport and ministry.
From that point forward I was captured by the fact that the Lord could use the activities I participated in and the areas in which I served to ultimately point back to Him, acknowledging His goodness, grace and GLORY.
Famed author John Piper defined glory as such, “I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define holiness as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling of the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we’re created in his image, and we’re trusting in His promises so that we make Him look gloriously trustworthy.”
Although there is so much in this definition, I am drawn to the words, “going public.” Maybe you have heard this before, but essentially, we want to make God’s glory shine!
Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father who is in heaven.”
Here we see that the goal of our lives should be to live in such a way that that people would say, “God is glorious!” Not because of anything that I did or have done but because of WHO He is! That He is spilling over into every facet of my life!
During my recent trip with Valor Discovery to the Czech Republic, we had an opportunity to learn this very thing…that in whatever we do, we have the opportunity to go public with His glory.
Our trip was primarily designed to use sport as a vehicle to further the Athletes in Action ministry in the Czech Republic, so our schedule was full of basketball games, practices and clinics, with a focus on three specific U15-U19 teams. Initially, our small team of seven was a little hesitant and uncertain that practicing and playing games could potentially open up the door for spiritual conversations in a country that is predominately atheist. This was an amazing opportunity to truly pose the question, “Is playing a sport ministry?”
I can honestly say that as a competitive athlete for most of my life, this question was hard to answer. As I began to see how my faith could truly integrate into every facet, I started to see my ability as a basketball player and now as a coach, a ministry. Yes, it may look a bit different than building a house or serving the poor, but ministry is still ministry is still ministry when JESUS is involved! When He is at the center of who we are and that spills over into what we DO. He can use it for His glory.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
As we began to practice and play with teams from across the Czech Republic, our team began to see that as we encouraged our teammates, as we cheered on the opposing team, something began to happen in the hearts of our opponents. Joy truly flooded these small gymnasiums and suddenly barriers began to fall. Language didn’t really seem to matter because in some supernatural way, the girls from Kralupy, Litomerice and Nusle saw something different. And it was captivating to some. The center of who our athletes were was spilling over onto basketball courts across the ocean.
As we gathered following our games and practices to share in a meal together, I was reminded yet again that the Lord can use even a conversation over a simple chicken dinner at KFC to bring glory and honor to Him. I watched as our girls were scattered around the restaurant engaging in conversations about life as a teenager in the Czech Republic, laughing about social media, conversing about families, talking about coaches and basketball, I noticed something…His glory was on display.
Because we are made in His image, we are a picture of His glory! Whether we are on the court, on the field, on the stage, in the classroom, as a mom, as a teacher, as a sibling…in every capacity, we can go public with his glory…because we are made in HIS image.
“And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” Isaiah 6:3
There were some amazing conversations that evening at KFC…and around the tables that served us traditional Czech dumplings…and on the court following a game…and even now through social media. This is ministry, not because of the activity itself or what we do, but it is only because He is at the center. And because His glory can spill out in all that we do and all over who we are…