By Kelly Duke
Sierra Vista United Methodist Church
San Angelo, Texas
My junior high tennis coach spent his summers working at the city pool, and, in the small West Texas town where I grew up, everyone knew him. In truth, we all wanted to be his friend; his charisma and gentle appeal were just that engaging.
Eventually, he left our small town, and I was forced to navigate high school without his wisdom and guidance. As I worked through these adolescent years, I struggled with my faith. Truthfully, I couldn’t really see or even appreciate what God could do for me.
During that time, I didn’t have a spiritual compass. The only thing I did know for sure was who my tennis coach was; I knew what he was about and how he would act, and I began a somewhat strange spiritual discipline.
In any challenging or perplexing situation, I began asking myself the question: What would Coach do? Inevitably, I always found the right answer. Years later, I realize that he became Jesus for me when I couldn’t find Jesus himself.
We all have seasons of our lives when we can’t find God on our own – when we need someone to stand in for Him until we are ready for Him for real. Sometimes those substitutes are part of the Godhead themselves, as Jesus was. Sometimes these substitutes are snakes on sticks, as they were for Moses and the Israelites, and sometimes they are junior high tennis coaches.
Prayer: Dear sweet Lord, thank you for coming to me, even when I wasn’t sure I wanted you to. You sent others in your stead, and I am grateful. In the name of the Greatest One whom you sent, Amen.
- Who has been God for you this week? How?
- How was the appearance of this Godly influence surprising to you?
- Why does God use surprises – snakes on sticks and junior high tennis coaches – to keep us on track? How does that approach change or enhance their impact?