"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
- Isaiah 41:10
At tennis camp, we reflected on the nature of God's work. We looked at the good news that God seems to always be working in many ways, but God saves us from the things that hold us back, God forms us into a supporting family, God reveals his character to us so that we may know God better, and God gives us blessing that we are to be thankful for and extend to others.
As the tennis season unfolds, I notice that as we play, we struggle with confidence. We struggle to play to our strengths and let everything fall where it may. We struggle to let the things that matter matter, and to let the things that don't matter go.
In times of struggle, I fear my ability as a coach is too little. I fear that I won't be able to pull the right strings, say the right things, lead the right drills, emphasize the correct skills. I fear that I am simply too inept.
My boys have an album of songs by a kid's band called Seeds Family Worhip. This band takes Bible verses and puts them to music. Some of the songs are really catchy, and this weekend, after the Concord loss, as my head swirled with all the fears and thoughts of what to do come Monday, this song came on as I drove the family to church:
"Do not fear, for I am with you."
Immediately, two things occurred to me. First, that I need to be saved from these thoughts. They don't help me become a better coach, they simply convince that I'll never be the coach I need to be. Do not fear, the song says, and I remembered another Bible verse: "Perfect love drives out fear." There is no fear that I need to hold.
And the second thing I noticed was why. I don't have to be afraid because of God's presence. It is a relational reason, not a logical reason. It's not because there aren't problems. It's not because their aren't decisions. It's not because I'll get everything right. I don't have to be afraid because God is with me.
Relating this to the team, I realized. This is true in so many ways. First and foremost, no matter how poorly we're playing, how tight the match is, how frustrated we are... we need not be afraid, God is with us. This is the bigger story of life that we're living, the bigger good news. God gives us that important perspective, this tennis match is just a breath in the larger picture of life. God is with us, so we can turn that fear over to God.
Even more practical though, is the fact that fear is driven out by relationship. "Perfect love drives out fear..." and "Do not fear, for I am with you." If we are to believe that we can actually relax and see each match, each practice, each challenge as just a passing breath, then we need to know that we actually have a supporting tennis family behind us. A family that love us for us. For our character, not our wins. For the person that we are, not the skills that we have. We need to know that though every match might come down to whether Joel wins or not, or Hans, or Sol, or Justin, or whoever... even if they would lose every single time it depended on them... our love would never stop.
That is what will set us apart. And this means in private and in public. We can't just hug a guy after he's lost a killer match, then tell others how we would have won if coach only put us in that position. Or how if he would have worked harder during the offseason we'd be undefeated right now. Nope, we put those things behind us.
The truth is, I think we have that type of team. We just need to trust that we do. The freedom will be amazing.
God is with us, and we are with each other.