I stood behind the three point line, prepped to take a shot when I heard, “Stay in your range.” I looked directly at my mocker, and without breaking eye contact I shot the ball and made it.
I said, “Stay in yours.”
I was 19 at the time and had no filter, and definitely no time for anyone who wanted to put me in “my place”.
A few years ago I decided to buy a basketball and keep it in my trunk so I could go shoot around when I needed to think. It was also a good way to get outside and keep myself active.
Moving to the Philippines has proven to be an introduction to becoming familiar with the unfamiliar. One thing I could continue is my basketball therapy sessions.
The evening was settling in. There was a light breeze as the day had been overcast and rainy. I took to the basketball court and found my favorite place to be on the court, shooting from downtown. The ball definitely hit the rim every time, but I wasn’t making a lot of shots. I began projecting my own critical voice onto an imaginary person who, like my previous mocker, was trying to get me to take easier shots.
At a certain point I heard this imaginary bully sneer and tauntingly ask,
How many shots did you make?
To which I replied,
How many did you make? I may have missed a lot of shots, but I was actually out there so my percentage of buckets is better than yours.
In that moment, He was so present. I felt Him there and I remembered why I was out there in the first place. The only thing that truly clears my thoughts and sorts out the garbage is His presence. Playing basketball is just the thing to help get my analytical mind to take a break long enough for me to know He is there.
More importantly, it is knowing He is there without criticizing or mocking.
I was out on that basketball court to be with Him. It wasn’t about how many shots I missed or how many I made – it was all about the fact that I was out there doing what I said I would do.
As my thoughts were being cleared of garbage I could hear him clearly,
“Rachel, so many people are going to mock, criticize, and try to bully you out of living, out of doing what you were made to do. You can either listen to them, or you can continue to clear you mind, give me those thoughts, and do what I’ve asked you to do – WITH ME.”
God knew I needed to know that He was with me. I needed to know He was pleased and delighted with me. I was used to critical voices that only ever made me feel as though I was not good enough. I was used to being a disappointment.
God has been so clear with me about playing the game. Sometimes I will miss, trip, or make a mistake, but the point is, am I playing and listening to Him coach me through? Am I focused more on performance or Presence? Am I more concerned with making it or my Maker?
I honestly can’t tell you how many shots I made that day, but I can tell you that He was there and wherever He is, I’ll always be in my range.