What seems like decades ago, (Oh, wait, it was decades ago.) I coached my daughter’s softball team for several seasons. I learned early on that it helped to keep a hit sheet, among other things, for each opponent. Knowing where each of their girls usually hit the ball allowed me to move my girls into a better position to make a good play.
When it comes to keeping tabs on an opponent, the technology may have changed, but observing human performance goes back as far as the Garden of Eden. Satan observed and studied the new 2-legged creatures walking with God in the cool of the day. He calculated that the most opportune time for him to make his move would be when they were alone. Then, he covertly slithered into position and made his play.
Satan studies you and me as well. He keeps detailed stats. He knows what will lure us into sin, keep us distracted, intimidate us to no end, or puff us up. He’s learned what keeps us up at night. He’s heard our exhaustion spew unkind words to innocent friends. He’s seen how prone we are to be either overly positive or excessively negative about our circumstances. He flashes a winning smile when our insecurities or selfish pride pushes others away. The important thing is to keep our eyes on Jesus and “stay alert and watch out for our great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)
The Good News is we have an inner Coach constantly empowering us to get an upper hand on our opponent. When Satan thinks he is perfectly positioned to rob us of a hit, our Holy Spirit Coach steps up to teach us more about ourselves. Only then can we successfully adjust our swing, make corrections, and hit line drives into the open field. Learning to make even the smallest adjustments in ourselves can keep our evil opponent out of position.
Not only do believers have the Holy Spirit coaching them through life, but we are also part of one vast victorious team. We continue to play the game, but the victory has already been won thanks to Jesus! Some have just walked up to the plate, ready for the first pitch. Some of us are rounding third and headed for home. If you’re still breathing, you’re still part of the game!
Unfortunately, team members don’t always get along. My young softball team was no exception. They once got into a squabble over something trivial which threatened the effectiveness of our practice. Allowing them to work it out on their own or run the bases several times wasn’t working … and neither was my patience. In desperation, I picked up a bat and asked them if they knew who Moses was. They all did, but the question caught them off guard. I finally had their full attention.
I began to tell the story found in Exodus 17 of Joshua and the Israelite army fighting off the attack of the Amalekites. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” (Exodus 17:9 NLT)
At that point, I grabbed each end of the bat and held it over my head. I explained that as long as Moses held the staff of God over his head the Israelites were winning. But eventually Moses’ arms grew weary, and he lowered his staff. When he did the Amalekites gained control of the battle. Fortunately, Moses had taken along his brother Aaron and his friend Hur. “So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.” (Exodus 17:12-13 NLT)
The girls got my message. In order for our team to be successful we had to hold each other up. None of us could win the game without help from our teammates. We couldn’t afford to be prideful or petty. We needed each other. From then on, the raised bat became our rally symbol.
When it comes to overcoming the attacks of Satan, Jesus is most certainly enough. However, we were made for relationships. We were created to belong to a family. We partner with God to sharpen each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT) Sometimes, we are the ones who need to hold up the hands of our teammates. At other times, we are the ones who should pull up a rock and have a seat. It’s okay to confess our weaknesses and allow others to hold up our weariness for a while. In fact, that’s what humbles us and injects us with the strength to defeat our common enemy.
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2 NLT)
One thing is certain. Believers will all be safe at home soon. In the meantime, let’s play like a champion! “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a NLT)