“Ready position. Right hand on bottom, buddy.”
Andrew switched his hands on the tennis racquet. Two seconds later, the left hand slipped back to the bottom position. Again.
Patiently, the instructor repeated himself. “Ok, buddy, ready position. Right hand on bottom.” “Nope, right hand on bottom. You’ll get it.”
I watched this over and over and over again. I wondered at what point I would see the tennis instructor throw the racquet in the air and call it a day. At what point he would say ‘Enough is enough. He won’t get it.’ He never did. In fact, the tone of his voice never even hinted at frustration or lack of faith.
I watched as the instructor explained to Andrew what he expected him to do only to notice that Andrew wasn’t listening. He was dialed in to the big kids playing a court away. These weren’t just any big kids. They were the highly ranked players. He was mesmerized. The look in his eyes told me all I needed to know. That is what he wanted. To play that way. That is exactly what he had come for.
Now, I knew this before our first lesson, which is why I very carefully explained to him that he would not be playing actual matches or even against other players. I explained how he would play fun games to learn how to play the sport. If he could choose, he’d skip all of that. He’d get right to the match.
I thought back. It’s summer time. Golf lessons. Andrew was the proudest monkey of the bunch. Over and over again I could hear the instructor from 100 yards away. “Andrew, ready position. Nope. Ready position.” Every. single. day. that. week. The instructor never lost faith, never showed frustration.
Andrew focuses on what’s ahead and would prefer to skip what he calls ‘the boring parts’, what the rest of the world calls the important parts. When he thinks of playing golf, he envisions a golf tournament. When he thinks of playing tennis, he imagines himself smashing the ball across the court to his opponent. He would prefer to skip right over the most important part – the foundation, the basics, the skills needed for future success. And he struggles to keep his eyes locked on the instructor. Instead he gazes at where he wants to go.
I feel a bit like Andrew these days. I get him in this way. When I decide to do something, my eyes tend to focus on the highly ranked players rather than the Instructor who is working with me one-on-one to prepare me for the match.
It’s a New Year, and my sights are set on the matches and tournaments down the road. I’m struggling to keep my focus on the Instructor.
I have all these ideas swirling in my head. Ideas for book #2, ideas for growing a ministry, ideas for Seeking Christmas next season, ideas for nurturing my family. Ideas, ideas, and ideas. I’d like to skip the in between and jump right to the implementation of it all. But I can’t. I need to spend this time with my Instructor.
Here’s the thing. These aren’t just ideas I’m holding onto. They are passions that were awakened. Something happened last fall to my desires. When I began confronting fear, the desires emerged and ignited passions I didn’t know were hanging around. They grew and began burning out the fear. I confronted fear time and time again (because I had no choice, my book had been released- there was no turning back though I wanted to many times). Now that something inside has come awake, it wants to do more.
But now it’s January. And it feels a bit like starting over. I focus on all these ideas, these hopes, these dreams, these desires. I begin spending too much time watching the other court when I should be listening to my Instructor. Suddenly, anxiety begins to replace passion. Suddenly, the fear I thought had lessened only changed shape. The whispers within begin. The ones that are telling me I can’t do the things I want to do.
The Instructor never gives up. Never loses faith.
If I listen closely, I hear something else. If I listen closely, it quiets the whispers. While my eyes are on the other court, I hear it in the background. “Ready position. Right hand on bottom. That’s it. Ready position. Right hand on bottom. That’s it.”
One step at a time. Whatever desires He places in our hearts, whatever dreams He creates for us to chase, whatever passions He inflames, He will continue to coach us in the process. Patiently. No giving up.
No matter if it’s a small dream or what seems impossible, no matter if it is a small passion or one that would save the world, no matter- He is the creator of the dreams, hopes, and desires, and He will instruct us each step of the way. If we are listening to His coaching – not watching the other court.
We must be in the ready position before we can handle the ball. He protects our dreams and passions by reminding us to get ready.
“Ready position. Right hand on bottom. That’s it.”