Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Lesson in Competition

Competition brings out the worst in people and I think I've figured out why. It is because playing by the rules makes competition hard, and though there is always a winner and a loser, no one plays the perfect game. We all break the rules and pay the price for it. That's why there are rules - the rules govern the game and force you to act in a certain manner that will ensure a fair game.

Granted, I am making generalizations here and I understand that any analogy that takes a human picture and displays a spiritual truth will fall short of God's true glory, but hang with me here.

Dave and I like to play tennis - not against each other because it's not even a match then, but as partners. And here's why I like to play with Dave as my partner - because I am a horrible tennis player. You see, you have to hit the ball within the lines in order to keep the ball in play and earn a point. Certain boxes to serve in, various alleys to protect, a net to hit over and an end line to play within. That's the rules.

But when I swing and hit the ball, I don't always stay within those lines. It goes all over the place. I'm inconsistent, slamming the ball into the net one time and sailing it over the back wall the next. Yes, I do get my serve "in" now and again, but not consistently and because of this annoying thing called "rules", I have come to realize I am a poor tennis player.

Enter Dave. He's really good. He runs back and forth behind me, scooping up balls I have swung at and missed, running to the net to get drop shots that I can't reach, serving consistently to keep the ball in play. Basically, he plays the game and I cheer him on. And when "we" win, it's really his victory because all tennis shows me is how inadequate I am to keep the rules - I need a partner to win for me.

Okay, so this is going to be a sorry excuse for a parable, but tennis is a picture of the Law. Life has rules, or better - God has rules and if we play by the rules, we can have a relationship with God. But we are terrible at life - we break the rules constantly and the whistle blows with continual violations because we are so bad at it. How can we ever win if we have to play by God's rules?

Enter Jesus. He steps onto the court of life and we take our seat on the sidelines. He lives the perfect life, keeping every rule and winning the game for us. Then He walks over and hands us the trophy, as if we participated in the game at all. It's His victory and He gives it to us. I guess an even better picture is that after winning for us, He brings us onto the court and partners with us to make us better players, even in our fallen state. This analogy could go on and on...

But can you see it? As I struggle with frustration at my inability in sports (remember sports brings out the worst in me), I have decided to respond with spiritual eyes and thank the Lord that rules show our inabilities and our need for Jesus. Then maybe my attitude will improve and I'll understand that sports simply underscore our dependency on our Savior.


  1. Excellent story Kristen!! God has give you many talents!! I admire them! I think i might suggest to Tom we try tennis together this fall as we become empty nesters although we'll need to find someone to play against as I need Him as my partner! What a great analogy! On another note.. Planning a July 3rd get together at 4:00 if you are free or interested with old GR Friends at Old Boy's Brewhouse - anyone welcome! Let me know if you are free or interested. Miss u
    Laura Cooke

  2. If you're bad at tennis, I don't even want to know what adjective describes my tennis playing...