I love basketball and have since I was in the 6th grade. I've played it, watched it, studied it, thought about it, and talked about it with others for nearly 50 years. A common statement in the basketball world is, “stay in your stance.” This refers to the importance of a defensive player staying in good position. In addition to a defensive player needing to be in the right place at all times, he or she needs to be in the right stance. That is, players must have their feet shoulder width apart, be on the balls of their feet, and have their arms spread and palms up (in a zone, the arms should be raised). This is the basic defensive stance, which gives a player the best chance to defend another player.
It is one thing for a player to get in his or her stance, but it is another thing for a player to stay in that stance. The longer the game lasts, the more fatigued players get. The more stressful the situation, the more difficult it becomes to stay disciplined enough to both remember to stay in your stance and to actually force your body to do so. Actually, stance is usually most important when it's most difficult to execute. There is no exaggeration in saying that sometimes the difference between winning and losing is as simple as someone staying in stance.
There is a parallel for our spiritual lives which I believe is pretty important. Often, we may go through a season of life in which we can and readily do stay in our “spiritual stance.” This is more than just making moral choices, but also having the mindset, Godward orientation, and the practice of spiritual disciplines in our lives which enable us to live our best as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are “in our stance” and “playing well.”
Then, something happens. It may be something seemingly bad, like the loss of a job, a broken relationship, a frightening diagnosis, or the death of a loved one. It might also be something which, on the surface, seems to be a good thing... financial security, a promotion with increased responsibility and authority, a life of ease and prosperity, popularity, or lofty status.
Whatever the case, either gradually or all of a sudden, life circumstances makes "staying in your stance" more difficult.You have been working, trying, trusting, and praying for what seems like a long time, and fatigue sets in. Discouragement, fear, worry, or maybe a sense of self-sufficiency and a life of ease, but life takes you to a place in which it is really hard to stay in your spiritual stance.
When we need the help of our brothers and sisters, we instead isolate ourselves. When we need to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, we push it aside. When we need to double down in fasting and prayer, we are silent. When we need to surrender in passionate worship, we turn a cold heart away from His presence. Just when the need is greatest, WE DON’T STAY IN OUR STANCE.
This is not the time to forget the fundamental tenants of our faith. God is still God. Jesus has still won the victory.
God hears our prayers,
sees our needs, desires our best, and loves us with an unfailing love.
The tomb is empty, forgiveness is offered, and grace is real, so stay in your stance. Christ is exalted, in Him we have victory and freedom. Condemnation, guilt, and shame are defeated. When all is well, we readily quote Philippians 4:13, saying, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." If that is ever true, it is always true.