Lessons From the Locker Room

Retreating to Review the Playbook and Getting Direction
October 17, 2018

God teaches us through our surroundings. I recently asked basketball players from Tulsa Adventist Academy a few questions. “Where does the team go before a game?” I asked. The Eagles unanimously said, “To the locker room!” Again, I inquired, “Where do they go at half time?” They responded like a choir, “TO THE LOCKER ROOM!” I’m sorry you can’t hear the deafening increase in volume in their response. Did I dare ask where they go at the end of the game when the whistle blows? Yes, of course! THE LOCKER ROOM!

The players said that before the game starts they go to the locker room and the coach gives instructions, gets them focused and rallies them together. At half time whether they’re losing or winning, they still head back to the locker room with heads held high or hanging down. They again receive a pep talk, instructions and adjustments that are needed. They return to the locker room at the end of the game when the final whistle blows.

What spiritual lessons can we learn from this? Well, let’s look at Daniel, who was a “player” on the king’s court in Persia. The first thing he did was go and spend time with his “head coach” (God) in the “locker room.” He went about his duties for the day, and at “half time” or midday he returned to the “locker room” and spent more time with his “head coach.”

The Holy Spirit would impress Daniel of adjustments to make, tell him of things to come and provide encouragement through the “play book” (the Bible). At the end of the day, Daniel made his way back to the “locker room” and listened to his “coach” again. His “coach” also prepared him emotionally, spiritually and physically for the next “game.”

The Bible tells us, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before,” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel’s upstairs room was his “locker room.”

To know God’s will, His purpose, His leading, His Heart, one must spend time in His presence. Oftentimes, prayer becomes a simple monologue, just us talking. But to know God’s will we must be still, and enter into a dialogue with Him.

In his book, Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God, Mark Batterson says it this way: “Here’s the seven-word prayer that can change your life: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” This pivotal prayer is inspired by Eli’s advice to young Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:9. God’s greatest desire is to be close to us. In 1 Kings 19:12 we are reminded that He spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper.

Batterson continues, “When someone speaks in a whisper, you have to get very close to hear. In fact, you have to put your ear near the person’s mouth. We lean toward a whisper, and that’s what God wants. The goal of hearing the heavenly Father’s voice isn’t just hearing His voice; it’s intimacy with Him.”

How can we train to win? What routine, practices or exercises can we incorporate into our lives to build up spiritual muscle and expertise?

Ellen G. White summarizes the winning spiritual exercises in her book, The Ministry of Healing.

“All who are under the training of God need the quiet hour for communion with their own hearts, with nature, and with God…They need to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God. We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ Psalm 46:10.”

The perfect example is Jesus! White goes on to say, “Christ in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God's plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps.”

In her book Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3, White asserts that if you are longing to know God’s will, you will not be disappointed. She says, “The Lord reveals His will to those who are earnest and anxious to be guided.” So what are you waiting for? Go to the Locker Room!

Michael Smith is the lead pastor for the First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He lives with his wife, Holly, and children, Canaan and Shiloh, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.