It's summer camp time. Not the kind with canoes, crafts and team competitions. I'm not referring to the church camps that have packed away there t-shirts and banners for another year. I'm talking about football camp. The 95 degree August temps can only mean one thing...football camp has started.
I drove by a field this week and caught sight of about 100 young guys busting their tails to get ready for the season. I remember those days very fondly although I would have never predicted it back then. Early practices in the morning. Weightlifting, watching game film and team meetings in the afternoon. Long, early evening practices. It's an annual ritual that is as predictable as the rising of the sun.
Here's the interesting thing. Though most people never experience "camp" or the practices that lead up to another season of games, any coach worth his salt will tell you that this is where the games of fall are won and lost. It is here where the basics are hammered out. It's here where the real gut checks are taken and the conditioning is completed. The games are simply a measurement of all that has led to that point.
Kind of like worship. (I'm serious). You can measure the maturity of a people by their worship. Worship gatherings on Sunday are not what we live for, they are simply measures of all we have lived through in the weeks before. Our personal growth. Our quiet times. Our times of refining. Our lives of worship. These are where the spiritual battles are won on a weekly basis--not in an hour on Sunday morning.
The problem is that many Christ followers simply believe they can show up for the game without "doing the time" in preparation. Who you worship on Sunday morning is the person you have lived for Monday through Saturday. That's why so many church attenders are, in reality, worshipping themselves on Sunday morning. We arrive with our checklists of needs. Good sermon? Check. Good music? Check. Comfortable seating, warm welcome from the pastor, no inconveniences? Check, check, check. My worship of me is complete.
Can you imagine the coach's reaction if his star player called on Monday to say he missed the game because he was too tired, the coach down the street had a better game plan or the other team's band was just a little better? You and I are called face-to-face with the living God on a daily basis. It is preparation for a battle that calls us to daily set our agendas aside and give our ALL for Him. Then, when Sunday rolls around, we show up, game face on, ready to worship a God who has walked hand-in-hand with us through every second of our week.
The game is on. I hope when Sunday rolls around, you'll be in your place, ready to bring praise from a week of worship, service, love and surrender before God. Get off the bench TODAY and get into the game.