“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 KJV)
God is omnipotent. It always amazes me that He has chosen to allow us mere mortals to choose to obey Him, even though He has the power to make us do so.
From the start, He has given us a command but leaves us the choice.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 KJV)
In the early 1970s, I saw a good example of this.
The church that we attended had a men’s hockey team that played in a church league, but, with a lack of leadership, had not won a game for 18 months. They pressured my wife and myself to assume the challenging responsibilities for managing, training, and coaching.
To join, players had to be 16 or older. The members made an exception that allowed our 15-year-old son to join. They thought that this would encourage his parents to assume this onerous challenge. It also helped that he was a strong player.
I was not an experienced coach, but we agreed, and after two years, our team won the league championship.
My wife was a good organizer and an experienced nurse, so she was capable of handling management details and also treating injured players, even driving them to the hospital when required.
I had two basic tenets that I taught.
Firstly, the most important skill in sports is discipline — the ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Secondly, players never score any goals when they are sitting in the penalty box. Even though this was a church league, fighting was not uncommon.
At a critical time in one game, one of our toughest players was about to enter a melee that I knew would lead to a fight. Ted looked over to our bench on the opposite side of the rink, and I just beckoned to him to come.
He quickly skated over to our bench, and everyone on both teams were shocked that he didn’t remain in the middle of the developing fight. Ted knew that if he disobeyed, one of the consequences for him would be sitting on the bench. As a real competitor, he always wanted to be on the ice, playing hard!
I could not have forced Ted to come, but he chose to take the simple beckoning as a command and not just as an invitation. He decided that obeying my command was the best for him and the team.
We live our Christian lives faithfully when we accept our heavenly Father’s invitation to follow Christ Jesus and then obey His commands and share His love with others.
Prayer: Dear Father, give us Your grace to accept Your invitations and obey Your commands. Help us to show Your love in practical ways. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada