I played basketball for many years. I absolutely loved the physical challenges and grace of the game. I like sweat. I still enjoy watching, coaching, and occasionally playing, especially with my kids. This winter, I coached a second and third grade boys team that included my youngest little dude. I really wanted to coach Abigail, my twelve-year-old daughter’s team, but God had other plans. Saturday’s game was frustrating for her and me. She didn’t get as much court time as seemed fair, and we have been underwhelmed with her coaches. It was hard to watch because I knew her little heart was frustrated and disappointed, and because it reminded me of the way I felt after every game, every practice, every season end – hollow, blank, dissatisfied.
I do not know very much about psychology. I struggle sometimes with finding words that other people use to describe the deep things of the soul. I have a minor in Biblical Theology yet increasingly find my answers to questions about God and people are reduced to the Sunday School answers my granny would extract from at the ripe old age of three – “Jesus,” “sin,” and “heaven.” But even with my uncertainties, I know for sure that anything that cultivates a dull emptiness inside a person is probably not the best choice.
In comforting my daughter’s hurting heart, I remembered that I have never walked away from a day of writing or reading, baking or laundry, carpentry, painting, sewing, pottery, or gardening and felt even a trace of emptiness or dissatisfaction. These things have revealed to me the beauty and glory of God. They have made me marvel and wonder at the Creator who created creators. They have been a feast of the goodness of God poured into my life.
I’m not here to preach against the evils of organized sports. To the contrary, I can recognize that a slight shift in my own perspective on physical activity and sports has changed my heart. Without having experienced the great letdown of basketball seasons, I may never have recognized my longings for something more. Or perhaps my longings for something less. Thankfully, I no longer run 10k’s because I must maintain my girlish figure or feel mighty and powerful at the finish line, but as a celebration of what God has designed my body to achieve. My prayer for these fragile words you are reading is this:
“So teach us to number our days
That we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
And for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
And your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor or the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands upon us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands!”
Psalm 90:12-17, ESV
I long for me, my daughter, my sons, and you, dear reader, to be satisfied in the morning with God’s steadfast love. I want for us to rejoice and be glad all our days, not with a shallow, passing shadow of materialistic happiness, but with the precious, overflowing joy of Christ. We are made for so much more than fifteen minute windows of fame that only foster cravings for another fifteen minutes and leave us wrung out, lonely, aching, empty.
I don’t think it’s an accident that Moses wrote those beautiful words of belonging and fragile humanity and home. Moses knew a thing or two about longing for something more. Indeed, his whole life was a passing from one homelessness to another. He was adopted but never truly accepted, rejected by his biological family, attacked and chased by his adoptive brother. During the only stretch of life that he may have started to feel at home, tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the desert, Moses named his son Gershon “Sojourner”, saying that he is a stranger in a strange land. And finally, upon reaching the fringes of the Promised Land, He was gathered to his fathers just outside of Israel. In spite of all of this, He called God His dwelling place.
Anything other than the unwavering love of the Lord will only placate our hearts. All the other things we chase and grasp in an attempt at gratification will leave us alone, broken, bone-weary, and wandering, truly lost, without home or hope. But those who say of the Lord, “You have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 40:1, ESV) even though they may wander in desert places for forty years, be rejected by their own people, or seen as strangers in strange lands will be filled with joy of belonging and gladness that cannot be defined by circumstances.
I rejoice to say that there are very, very few things in my life now that leave me with the discontented ache that playing basketball did. There are still things that need to be rooted out as false happinesses, but I am learning to number my days and to fill them with things that display the glory of God. I want to be cultivating lasting joy, enduring peace, steadfast love, goodness, truth, beauty. I challenge you, precious reader, to do the same. Examine your hearts and lives. Let us not waste time with things that threaten to drown us in dissatisfied frivolity. Number your days, dear friend, and make them count! Christ has come to fill our lives, not to empty them.
Featured image is courtesy of Jordan Durbin and used with her kind permission for Cultivating.
Second-generation homeschooling mom of five wee snickbuzzards, Jordan Durbin is a maker of humble pottery, fine artist, calligrapher, gardener, pickle maker, baker of all things gluten-inclusive and butter-laden, violinist, vocalist, rabbit raiser, wife of one good man, lover of her blessed Redeemer. She has a Bachelor’s degree in fine art from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She is an avid coffee drinker, reader, and published children’s book author and illustrator. She aspires to proclaim the resurrection with every moment of her life.
A Field Guide to Cultivating ~ Essentials to Cultivating a Whole Life, Rooted in Christ, and Flourishing in Fellowship
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