In two years of varsity tennis, Joel has become quite a doubles force. He has the attitude of an elite doubles player. His nature tends to be jovial and laid-back, but his “Let’s go’s!” and “C’mon’s!” are well known by anyone whose been to a couple of matches this year. The energy and passion that he brings to this sport have been a much needed spurt for the team, as you’ll often hear an echo from around the courts, people encouraging him back.
Not just his attitude, but his skills have born out his touch as a doubles machine. This season, he and Hans have won more matches than any #1 doubles team in the past five years. Indeed, if they win just a couple more they’ll have the winningest record at #1 doubles in Bethany history.
But what I’ve appreciated most about Joel isn’t the winning or the intensity. It’s his ability to look inside and be honest. I remember his explosion sophomore year, where he lost a challenge match and got angry. I remember talking with him for a good half an hour while practice went on, and then more later. And I think of tennis camp, and the conversations that have pushed our bedtime back because Joel still has more to share. Joel has keen gifts of insight and wisdom, and I’ve enjoyed most watching him grow into those.
I always pick a verse from the Bible for the seniors, one that I think especially fits them. For Joel, it’s James 1:2-5.
“Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Have joy, my brother Joel, even in difficulty. God is not looking for faults. God is looking to give.