You could say it was the weekend of the walk-on here in Iowa. Friday night my girls and I traveled to Ames to watch the ISU Cyclones; the teams did not disappoint. It was my basketball loving girls first time in a big arena so watching them was about as much fun as watching the games. Their eyes got big and their dreams grew bigger. We had much to talk about, but today I want to share one thought that went a bit deeper.
Have you ever thought much about walk-ons? If you're not a sports fan, your answer will be a quick "no". And even if you enjoy the game, walk-ons probably don't have much of your attention, but this weekend my girls and I spent time talking about this important role and I've spent even more time thinking about it. I pray you will do the same, but first I want to ask you a question - "Are you willing to be a walk-on?"
As you think about this question, let me share a few more thoughts...
Like I told my girls, a walk-on has an important role. It's said that a team is only as strong as it's weakest player. A walk-on may not get much time on the floor when the lights are on and stands are full, but they are vital when it comes to practice. They help the starters get better. Though people don't know or flock to these players like they do the All-Americans or even know their name like some of the starters and key reserves, they still have skills. Walking on is not something just anybody can do...in a way coaches choose these players too.
My daughters understood this, but their little competitive selves struggled with the idea of sitting on the bench. They are only in 4th and 6th grade but already love to play the game and had a hard time imagining doing all that work, going to all the practices and just sitting on the bench. After hearing their thoughts, I reminded them of the importance of teamwork and the fact that playing basketball has to be about something bigger than themselves. Walk-ons are truly athletes who love the game, have the desire to be part of a program and are often humble. They are willing to give up the glory and must make a financial sacrifice to follow a dream.
This conversation continued and went deeper as we talked about being a walk-on for a team other than the Cyclones. Let me add to the question I asked earlier, "Are you willing to be a walk-on for Christ?"
Will you lay down your dreams and desires so He can get the glory? Are you willing to work behind the scenes while other brothers and sisters get the spotlight? Will you sacrifice financially and personally to follow where He leads? Are you willing to work hard, put in extra time even if nobody ever knows your name? Will you humble yourself, play your role and trust God's plan?
Friend, those are all simple questions to state, but can be challenging to really answer honestly. I know my girls aren't the only ones with big dreams and desires...we're all human, our flesh wants to be noticed, some of us are competitive and we want to play. But in all of this we must remember God is good...He is a coach who has chosen us. He doesn't have 5 star recruits and walk-ons, His team consists of sons and daughters. He knows our name, our role and our potential. Trust Him, "play" for Him.
A few thoughts from His Word to support this thinking -
"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Corinthians 12:21,27)
Friend, every member of a basketball team is important regardless of stats and in the same way every member the body of Christ is important regardless of roles.
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last-so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." (John 15:16) When it feels like the world forgets us we must remember the bigger picture - God has chosen us!! He has work for us to do and even if it doesn't look like we expected or dreamed about we must give Him our all and our best!!
"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 14:11) Like I said it takes humility to be a walk-on. A friend's son is currently experiencing his freshman year as walk-on and I have to guess this is not what his dream looked like as a child - sure he dreamed of being a D1 player, but we don't dream about sitting on the bench. Thankfully as we mature our understanding grows and so does our willingness to accept reality. He is grateful for the role God's given him on this team and I pray we all feel the same as we humble ourselves and embrace our role on God's team.
A few final encouraging words - these words from God's Word are true. Friday night Stu, the beloved walk-on at Iowa State, enjoyed a few minutes on the court. The crowd cheered when he took the floor and then erupted when he scored. He's put in his time, accepted his role and found some success. Then on Saturday night, another walk-on here in Iowa, was given time in the national light. Keith Duncan, a freshman walk-on kicker for the Hawkeyes, nailed the game winning field goal to knock off the mighty Michigan Wolverines.
Friend, when you and I humble ourselves for our Father in Heaven He will give us more than success on the basketball court or football field. He will bless our obedience and give us eternal rewards. And like all walk-ons know more importantly than individual success, God will get the glory and His kingdom will grow!!!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to be on your team. Help each and everyone of us embrace the role you give to us. Help us die to self so that we can live for you. May we surrender our dreams and pursue your plans. Transform our thinking and renew our minds. Equip us to live for you and you alone. Lord, humble our hearts and let your perfect plan unfold. May we always remember the privilege it is to be used by you. In Jesus' Name, Amen