When it’s tough to believe

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Scripture: Genesis 15:1-20

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Take It Further: From Days Gone by to Days to Come by Terra Lucas

As I listened to Pastor Ron speak on those times “When it’s tough to believe,” I had the weirdest thought. An image of children waiting to play tetherball on my elementary school playground came to mind. Hmmm, from where did that come?

Have you ever played tetherball? A pole is cemented into the ground with a rope attached to the top of the pole. A ball is attached to the other end of the rope. The game requires two players, each assigned to move the ball either clockwise or counterclockwise, respectively, around the pole. Whoever succeeds in wrapping the ball completely around the pole wins. The conversations between those waiting to play can often be as “lively” as the game itself as those waiting to play may they engage in activities that range from trash-talking to shoving matches over who is best.

As an analogy for believing God in tough times, the more specific topic would focus on developing the relationship that fosters such strong belief. God would be the unwavering pole in the center. The players, using all of their might to move that ball to their advantage, would be someone’s belief that he or she knew how best to help God accomplish the goal. We can easily see those who engage in poor sportsmanship on the sidelines as the birds of prey, as Pastor Ron mentioned. I draw three conclusions from the tetherball analogy:

  • God, unlike me, is unchanging. I wholly can commit to wrapping myself around what I want rather than what God wants for me. While my actions would look the same way, the outcome could not be more different. His response to my prayer may feel like a “no,” but I have to know that he has a plan for me.
  • Depending on the playground, I may encounter all kinds of sneaky rules in the fast-paced game of tetherball. Building and maintaining a relationship with God is not a game. It requires an investment of time—authenticity rules.
  • How I wait while believing is essential. I need to be mindful of who I am around and what information I share. Consider this: an act of kindness positively impacts the doer, the recipient, and anyone who witnesses the action. It makes sense that the converse would be correct. If kindness has that effect, might other interactions, as well?

The image of the Holy Spirit tethering me to Christ reassures me of what is available to me as a believer–and what is required of me to build and maintain my relationship with God.

If I were to choose a childhood playground game to liken my need to tend to the details of such a relationship with God, I could easily make a case for hopscotch. Without going into detail, it is not hurried. It is somewhat contemplative. It can be enjoyed with others or alone and can be as challenging as you make it. The rules allow for the court to have some spaces that are marked “safe,” “home,” and “neutral.” In those terms, I find comfort and stillness. Some versions of the game have a rule called “help,” be it for understanding or meet a need, I can freely cry out to God. I imagine Abraham relied on each of those markers in developing a personal relationship that enabled him to know that God loved him and to believe God when things got tough.


We’d love to hear from you. Please share with us below your thoughts and insight. We would love to see Take it Further be a place where as a community we dialog, and together we all take the conversation further.

*Note: If you wish, you can look up this and other Bible passages online at youversion.com
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