It is far better to begin with God—to see His face first, to get my soul near Him before it is near another.
— Robert Murray M’Cheyne
Coach Buckley’s football practices were brutal. I was only 11, but I still remember them to be grueling, agonizing and dreadful. The infamous practices had tons of running and repetitive drills, all without scrimmaging! Many players wouldn’t make it through the practices without losing their lunch, and many of them quit. Even my best friend left the team; his parents pulled him. But, even though the sacrifice was great, the return was sweet. We earned a perfect season; no team even scored on us! The Braddock Road Sharks brought fear to all other 11-year-olds who dared to play football.
Our practices were not marked by complexity but by simplicity. Drills, drills and more drills. We went over the basics in every practice. Coach Buckley stressed the fundamentals of the game and the fundamentals of each position. Those fundamentals were the key to our success.
Our team focused on the basics. Great coaches understand that focusing on the essentials will make players compete at their highest level. Coaches who assume that fundamentals don’t need to be stressed throughout the year are usually looking for a new job at the end of the season.
If fundamentals are the keys to success on sports teams, then what would be the fundamentals of being on God’s team? What are the basics that our Head Coach, Jesus Christ, would want us to do?
In 1959, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, while holding a football in front of him, said to his Green Bay Packers: “Let’s start at the beginning. This is a football.” Could it be any more basic than that? In the same way, I think Jesus stands up in front of us each day and holds up the Word of God and says, “This is a Bible.”
Over the next eight years, Coach Lombardi transformed the Packers’ program by sticking to the basics. They were in a class by themselves, winning six divisional and five NFL championships and achieving two Super Bowl victories.
Jesus Christ desires to transform our lives in an even greater way! All it takes is following His direction.
So, start by taking in the Word of God. Read through the Bible—it will change you. Time after time in my life, I’ve realized anew that spiritual victory is directly related to time spent in His Word.
Psalm 119:147 reminds me of the importance of connecting with the Lord: “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in Your word.” Position yourself to let Him speak into your life.
In Mark 1:35, we see one of Jesus’ keys to success. It was fundamental for Jesus to engage with His Father every day. It was not optional. It was a must. Mark writes:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.
It can be a daily battle to pick up the Bible when we’ve got so much on our to-do lists. That’s because our enemy doesn’t want us to spend time daily in the Word. He knows that if we do, our lives will be transformed, and others’ lives will be transformed. He’ll do anything to prevent that from happening. He’ll throw everything he can at us to stop us from cracking open the Book of Truth.
But if we want clarity and spiritual success in life, start with the Word of God. Focus on the spiritual fundamentals. Oswald Chambers said, “Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly.”
Get going and dive in! Just you and the Bible. Open it, read it, study it, meditate on it and linger in it. Let it soak into you.
Let’s start from the beginning. “This is a Bible.”
Step one: Grab a Bible.
Step two: Open it.
Step three: Read it.
Step four: Experience it for yourself.
Father God, I ask for You to make following You plain and simple to me. Show me how much I need the basics in my life. Teach me the simplicity of getting into Your Word. May the act of picking up the Bible, reading it and meditating on it change me so I become more like You. May I experience You in a fresh new way today because of my time in the Bible. Thank You, Jesus, for Your instructions and commandments. They are sweet to my soul. In Your name, amen.
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