We were down by two points with two minutes to go.
Our opponents rebounded our missed shot and called a time out. I told my team of third and fourth graders, “You guys are playing great tonight! When we get the ball back, we need to get into position and take any open shot.” Even if the scoreboard didn’t show it, they had played their best game yet. We had been winless up to this point, and I believed if we kept up this momentum, we had a real chance to change that.
The time out was over. This is it. Here we go!
They inbounded the ball and dribbled down the court towards my fearless defenders with their hands up in anticipation to finish strong.
Sadly, they never had the chance.
For the last two minutes of the game, the other team worked the system and ran out the clock. We were robbed of the opportunity to try to get the ball back.
You see, the league rules restricted defense played outside of the 3-point arc. As long as the ball stayed outside the arc, there was no way to attack it. As ready and willing as my players were, they were helpless. So was I. Instead of playing out those final minutes of the game, we simply watched and waited for the buzzer to sound.
I think this is a great illustration of how life feels at times. You work hard and try your best only to discover that what you are striving for is out of your reach. It leaves you feeling helpless, confused, frustrated, and even defeated. This is the work of the Enemy.
Look at the words of Jesus in John 10:10. “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy”. Satan robs us of victory, drowns our dreams, and wrecks our worlds. On a daily basis, he has “the ball”, and he taunts us with it.
That is discouraging; however, it is not the end of the game.
Jesus continues, “But I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” Satan may play games, but Jesus has already won the game. Even when we feel helpless and confused, we have a defense — Jesus! His death and resurrection is our victory.
The Enemy works to distract you from this truth. He wants you to believe that God is out of reach. Don’t fall for the lie! Your Heavenly Father pursues you, Jesus intercedes for you, and the Holy Spirit lives within you (Psalm 139).
When the Enemy attacks, we have the power to remind him of this. We do not have to live defeated! As believers, our lives should show the power we have in Christ. The Bible calls God a mighty warrior, a fortress, a Redeemer, our Savior, our Rock, Protector, and comforter. We serve a mighty, multifaceted God who allows those who put their faith in him to be called his children (cf. Galatians 3).
We need to be focusing more on who God is than what Satan does. When we do this, our lives have far more purpose than pain — more joy and less just getting by.
We are no longer forced to watch inside the three-point line as the clock ticks down. Jesus took the ball from Satan, and won the game for us. Praise the Lord!!