I spent the afternoon cheering on the Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team to their lopsided victory over Penn St. It was awesome! Apart from a few minutes at the beginning, they dominated throughout the game. There was no point when the Gophers hit a cold spell. There was no point at which Penn St. really got back into it. The Gophers were on a roll.
Near the end of the game, I looked up at a stat scoreboard and saw that they were shooting 67%! That’s 2 out of every 3 shots that were falling for them. They were truly getting every good bounce and roll. One player in particular was emblematic of this, Devron Bostick. He shot 7 for 8, 2 for 2 from three point range, and he was 3 for 3 from the line. He was on fire.
Anyone who has played basketball competitively recognizes this as common place. Sometimes shooters just get hot. They find their stroke and their confidence soars. When this happens, they can’t miss. The hoop looks seven feet wide, and everything falls for them.
There is a striking parallel to the real world. When we have confidence, things tend to go better. When we feel sure of ourselves, we can often tackle bigger problems with greater grace. When we start a task believing that we will be able to finish it, we usually do.
I’m someone who doesn’t default to this sort of confidence. I’ve developed a more critical and skeptical attitude. It’s easier and it comes across as more intellectual to doubt something than to just will confident belief. But when it comes to my spiritual growth, like in basketball, I’ve found this sort of doubt can be self-defeating. If I don’t believe I can make changes in my life and experience real personal transformation, it’s likely that I won’t. Peter addresses our source of confidence for growth in the following passage:
2 Peter 1:3-9 (Today’s New International Version)
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if any of you do not have them, you are nearsighted and blind, and you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life…” I love that. We can have confidence that we can experience change and transformation. We can have confidence that our efforts at godliness are not in vain. We will experience growth and transformation. In the game of life, we can have confidence in our own potential for spiritual progress.