I love sports. I spent most of my career in sports management and enjoyed feeding off the camaraderie of teamwork, the athletes’ self-disciplined grind to push beyond physical limits, the electric atmosphere of arenas and stadiums, and the dedication of families and fans. It’s good stuff!
I especially love University of Michigan sports and often keep tabs on the teams to fuel my fandom.
I was recently inspired when reading about Mark Donnal, one of the least recognized players on Michigan’s Basketball team who has exploded onto the Big Ten scene. When his teammates were asked about his growing impact on the team, they echoed: “Inside presence.”
“He’s a big inside presence. He’s believing in himself and making us a better team. When Mark comes in and plays really well with that inside presence, it just takes our team to the next level.”
I immediately thought of the Holy Spirit as our big “inside presence.”
He’s our power forward and our O-line (Mom, that means offensive line); our goalie and our tag team partner. He’s what Mickey and Duke were to Rocky; what Billy Beane was to the Oakland A’s. He stays in our enemy’s face to block his shots, and trains and challenges us to take ourselves and our team to the next level.
We may not be on a sports team, but if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, you’re on God’s team and His team is His family. We all have roles to play and we need each other to take our team (family) to the next level. Satan is our opponent and comes at us with a fiery offensive plan to defeat us, but the Holy Spirit -- our big inside presence -- is always there to help us.
This doesn’t happen magically. We cheat ourselves and our family if we don’t participate on the team.
I experienced the importance of teamwork earlier this week. Just hours after publishing last week’s blog “Encouraging Yourself,” the enemy hit me with a wave of doubt: “Do you really believe God cares for you? What is your faith founded on? Can you prove it?” Seriously, I wanted to pummel this punk!
But I couldn’t do it on my own. I texted my teammate/friend “Hey, can you throw some punches in your prayers tonight?” He responded, “I just put on my gloves, tapping you out now!” His prayers supernaturally freed me to hear directly from Jesus that night and into the next day. My friend defended me, so I could receive God’s direction without having to beat back the enemy myself. (This was an answer to a prayer. Just week’s earlier I asked by faith for someone to “lay down cover against the enemy so I can fulfill my mission!”).
We are all wired to accomplish God’s mission and it’s up to us to figure out what that is (see True Purpose). While I write this, I’m the one laying down cover for another friend who has fallen back into an old habit and needs to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you’re wondering how can you receive the Holy Spirit, open your ears to hear what Peter teaches in Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If you haven’t accepted Jesus, on behalf of the family of God, we invite you into our family! If you’re already family, I encourage you to lay down cover for a friend, or put on your gloves and tap out a brother or sister this week. We all need each other!