Looking Upwards

Every Saturday morning, from January to the end of February, local Elementary students can choose to participate in a program called Upwards Basketball.  This activity not only allows the kiddos to play basketball, but they get to hear the word of God at every practice and game.  They learn  sportsmanship, hand-eye coordination, plays and drills along with devotions specifically geared at their age group.

Ethan's game face

My older nephews, Grant and Ethan, both participate and I love watching the them play.  The looks of concentration as they bring the ball down the court, the focus as they’re guarding, and the excitement when they make a basket. One of the things I love best is the understated acts of excitement they display when something really cool happens in the game. If they make a basket, the celebratory fist pump is quickly suppressed by a slight shrug of the shoulders, almost as if they’re saying, “I do cool stuff like this everyday”.

While I was watching the games, I got to thinking.  God is the coach of our lives and we are merely the player, trying so hard to make a basket and not foul out.  When we do something right, we want to jump for joy and brag to the world. However, our need to display just the right amount of emotion quickly overshadows the immense amount of excitement we are feeling inside. Seeking man’s opinion, we suppress our inner joy, afraid of standing out in the crowd.

This reminds me 2 Samuel 6:14-23

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.They brought the ark  if the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

How many times do we hide our joy in the Lord? How often do we, like Michal, judge others for showing their love for God in a way that we consider unacceptable?  So often we are too concerned about the opinions of others that we fail to seek the approval that means the most…the Lord’s. I love David’s response to Michal’s critique, “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes”.

When was the last time you became undignified and truly let the joy of the Lord flow through you? When did you not care about the opinion of others, but really sought to praise God with all your might? This week, I pray that we will seek to praise God with unabandoned joy, letting His love become visible for all the world to see. I pray that we can truly let go of ourselves so that we can love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. Dance, sing, shout…whatever…just praise Him, praise Him, praise Him!!!

Many Blessings,

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