by Shannon Caughey
Sports and superstitions seem to go hand-in-hand. There’s the sign on the wall that every player touches on their way to the field or court right before the game. Or the routine that an athlete or coach meticulously follows before each competition. Or the lucky socks that must be worn.
In one sense, these activities are a harmless part of the culture of sports. However, they can point to a more significant issue: relying upon something that has no ability to deliver what we need. Maybe we aren’t really relying upon our pregame superstitious practice to enable us to coach well. But to whom or what are we looking to give us what we need to coach and to live in the best way possible?
Over the previous several devotions, we’ve been discussing names and titles of God found repeatedly in Scripture: Most High, Lord, Father, Holy One, Lord Almighty, and Rock. These names and titles reveal who God is and what he’s like, deepening our relational knowledge of him. As we grow closer to the Lord, this impacts how we coach and live.
Consider one more way God is referred to in the Bible: “the living God.” This title is often used in the context of addressing the question we asked above: “Who or what are we relying upon to deliver what we need?” In Jeremiah 10, the worthless and destructive practice of idolatry is exposed. People are looking to these idols for help, but they are merely inanimate objects. Idols “cannot speak…cannot walk…nor can they do any good” (v. 5). Then v. 10 points to the only One who can provide what is needed: “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.”
In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul urges believers in Jesus to turn away from idolatry in any form and be devoted solely to the one true God. He reminds us of what is true when we surrender in faith to Christ: “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (2 Cor. 6:16). Through Christ, God draws near to us and makes a way for us to know him. He is the living God. In contrast to idols, God is real and actively at work in our life and in our world. He has the power, the ability, and the desire to deliver what he knows we need.
We probably aren’t tempted to bow before idols made of wood, silver, or gold. But we can look to other idols in an effort to find the life, sense of identity and value, and lasting purpose for which we hunger. These idols can be things like coaching success, financial comfort, or the approval of others. None of these things are bad in and of themselves. However, if we’re looking to them to give us what only the God who created us can provide, they become worthless and destructive idols. Like the inanimate objects that the people in Jeremiah’s day were relying upon, the idols of our day have no ability to deliver what we truly need.
Depend instead upon the living God. Put your trust fully in the God who came all the way to us in his Son Jesus. Through faith in Christ, you’re given salvation and life. You’re restored to the relationship with the living God that he desires for you. You can now daily walk with the living God, knowing him personally as his dearly loved child. And you can rely upon the living God to provide what he knows you need.
Coach, make it your daily goal to grow in knowing God more. He is the living God who draws near to you and enables you to draw near to him.
For reflection: Take a few minutes to praise the Lord because he is the living God. Confess anything you are relying upon other than God to provide what you need. Renew your trust in him and devotion to him.