The question we challenge our athletes throughout NTC is, are you an Athlete Slave or an Athlete Saint? The aim of all that we do this week is to bring them to this realization: at the moment of acceptance in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, they become saints. Two thousand years before they were born, the greatest thing has already been done in their life: Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Once and for all time, Christ has declared them as Athlete Saints. The reality is, is that they may not always compete as such. Our desire is to help them process through the reasons why.
Whether their felt present state and actions reflects this or not, they can rest assured in the roots of the finished work of the cross. There is no need to go further, to justify, or to prove themselves worthy. Irregardless of the score, their performance, or the calibre of play, we stand as Athlete Saints under the banner of God. I can let go of the shame I felt in dropping the pass, missing the free throw, or miss timing the exchange in the relay. I no longer need to dwell on what has been done, or rest in their accomplishments of what will be done, but to simply know greatest thing has already been done.
So what does it mean to compete freely as an Athlete Saint?
The simple answer is, know where your motivations comes from and surrender them to God.
Today we challenged their motivations by deconstructing the pre conceived notions they may have brought into the camp. We prod and probe into the depths of their hearts to ask the question: are they really playing for God or do other things distract them?
Motivations can be found in a multitude of areas and for a variety of reasons. Whether approval from parents, hoping to find self-worth, or holding onto a identity that will someday elude them, Sport for an athlete can be incredible motivator. There is a desire to satisfy a need in their life and an opportunity to fill them albeit temporarily, ‘if only they would want it bad enough’.
Yet what happens when you slowly peel back layer by layer to reveal that, sport in all of it’s glory will not fill a hole that only Christ can?
The answers we found, may have surprised the athletes themselves.
One athlete’s response to what he had been processing through:
“I have never been subbed off before, I am always the guy that stays on. That hit me.”
or another “there are things I have had to process that I didn’t even know I had to deal with”
It can be an enlightening time and for many it will take the coming days, weeks and months to process. Diagnosing the reason for sport and why I compete can be an exhaustive process. This was only Day 1 of our on-field sessions, and the next day will only reveal more.