I am focusing on the puck far across the ice through the shield on my helmet. My heart is beating a little faster than usual, but my body is completely relaxed.
Only one thing is important: to make sure the other team cannot penetrate the goal behind me. My breath creates vapor. Suddenly, my hands inside my gloves grip my hockey stick extra hard. The players in front of me have changed direction and are speeding toward me with the puck ahead of them.
The natural reaction
I look desperately around for my own team’s defensemen, but they are far away. All alone, I must defend the goal against some very determined opponents. I open my mouth and impulsively yell, “Where is the defence?!” My heart is beating wildly as I try to get into position. Before I am able to regain my composure, the puck is firmly in the net behind me.
In this dynamic sport, the game resumes just a few seconds later on the other side of the ice. I calm myself down and gather my thoughts:
What just happened? I got irritated, almost angry at my friends. True, it was the others’ mistake – they were not in their positions. But was I right to yell at them like that? I reflect on what happened inside me right at that moment. It was a human reaction to get “caught up” in the competitiveness of the game, and to think and say things I actually did not mean. But does it always need to be that way? Do I have to continue reacting in the same way I have always reacted?
I don’t need to continue this way
The words, “divine nature” pop into my head. What does the Bible say about that? It is written that God has called us and “…given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4. This suddenly comes alive for me in a way it never has before. I do not need to continue reacting in a human way!
I realize that this is not something that I can manage on my own. Sometimes I am tempted first, like a sort of forewarning of what is coming, but other times my human reaction arises before I have even thought about it; such as what just happened. According to God’s own Word it is possible to be liberated from the evil in my flesh, what I am tempted to, and partake of more goodness and virtue. But first God must be able to show me what dwells within me so that the unconscious tendencies in my flesh – my human nature – become conscious for me. Then I can, and must, deal with it.
Actually, I did not want to react the way that I did. I know this does not need to happen next time because then I will be alert and prepared to meet the temptation with all my defenses. In fact, I can pray that God will give me power and grace to overcome these specific things. By my faithfulness over time, I can eventually completely conquer these reactions, and instead react more and more the way God wants me to. That is what it means to partake in divine nature. It is amazing!
“That was exactly what just happened,” I thought. God gave me light; He showed me this because He has confidence in me and because He wants me to become happy and free from the sin that binds me.
I am filled with an incredible joy, and this time the warmth spreads from my heart. What a hope! I smile inside of my helmet, knowing that I have learned more at this hockey practice than at any practice I’ve been in before.