“Come on” the voice said from the stands. “You can play better than that.”
The little girl on the volleyball court was only ten or eleven, and the voice in the bleachers belonged to her overtly disappointed father. It was obvious to everyone in the gym that his daughter – now fighting back tears of shame – was letting him down.
Dad was agitated by his daughter’s lack of leadership and aggressiveness. She clearly wasn’t playing to her potential (“she’s so much better than this!”) and we all knew it would be a long car-ride home unless she picked up the pace. As his daughter, she was obviously supposed to shine brighter. She was failing to lead, inspire, and rise to the occasion. She was failing to make him proud.
Many of us hear similar voices as we move through our own lives. “Surely you can play better than that?” we hear from somewhere in the stands.“I was expecting so much more from you. Is this the best you can do? I am so disappointed…” We wonder if this voice belongs to God.
And just like that, our hope and joy is gone. What was once exuberant play is replaced with paralysis and self-consciousness. We dread making a mistake. We dread someone playing better than us. We dread the car-ride home with dad.
Is this why so few of us are eager to be alone with God? Do we expect a post-game lecture? Do we wonder if God will withhold his words of love and affirmation until we start playing well enough to make him proud? What do we imagine he is going to say about our play?
“I love watching you play.”
This the voice of our Heavenly Father (who knows our frame) and who loves us still.
“I love watching you play.”
This is the voice of Jesus (who suffered our wounds) and who prays for us even now.
“I love watching you play.
This is the voice of God’s own Spirit (who knows our doubts and insecurities) and who renews our strength each hour.
I have loved you with an everlasting love, and always will; I will never leave you or forsake you. Listen hard for this voice – it will never put you to shame.
You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased; I have called you by name and you are mine. Listen today for this voice – it will give you courage and rest.
There is no condemnation for you because of Jesus. Tune your ears to hear this voice – the voice of Truth – because it will set you free to play with joy.
God is not disappointed in your performance and you don’t let him down.
God doesn’t leave you vulnerable, in the harsh spotlight, desperate to prove your worth to him and the world. How do I know? Because when he watches you play he sees his beloved son, in whom he is well pleased.
God loves watching you play, not because of your notable performance or potential, but because of the passion of Jesus .
God treasures you, not because you make him so proud or shine so bright, but because Christ purchased your soul.
God’s voice never condemns you, not because you play perfectly or rise to the occasion, but because Christ absolutely did.
What voice do you hear in the stands today? Whose words and intentions are shaping your play? Your life? Your future?
There is a voice that calls you ‘Beloved’.
Peace to you and yours as you listen for Him.