Spiritual Tennis
Van Walton

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 2:2-3 (NLT)

I used to play tennis twice a week. I stopped playing several years ago. With my busy schedule, it became too much a juggle to commit to weekly games. There is another type of tennis I now find myself playing - I call it “spiritual tennis.”

I have been often told I’m hyper-sensitive, defensive, or insecure. I have been told that I take comments too seriously or personally. “Can’t you take a joke?” “Don’t be so serious.” “You are too thin skinned.”

Come to think about it, I can get my feelings hurt easily! Now I certainly do not want to ever become hard-hearted or callous to life. I would rather be sympathetic than unfeeling. But the truth is, sometimes other’s statements hit my mind, piercing my heart like purposefully directed missiles. It doesn’t take much to wound me. Sadly, once I’m emotionally injured my focus becomes my pain – to the extent that I become incapacitated for hours, days, or maybe months. During recovery my life is rendered worthless.

You are now wondering, “What do hurt feelings have to do with tennis?”

The game of tennis consists of two to four people competing against one another from opposite sides of the court. With the help of rackets, players smash, smack, and hurl the tennis ball back and forth with so much force as to cause the rival to move out of the way and, hopefully, return the ball.

Back and forth, back and forth goes the ball. A player scores when (s)he hits the ball with such force that the opposing player finds it impossible to deflect the ball. I can still hear my tennis coach. “All you have to do is return the ball.” That meant that I had to properly position my racket at an exact angle that would bounce the ball, sending it across the net and hopefully into a corner of the opposing court where my opponent could not reach it.

One day I got hit by the ball. Ouch! I couldn’t continue to play. I was incapacitated for days. Had my racket been in place, it would have shielded me and I would have averted the injury.

The racquet used for spiritual tennis is spelled S.H.I.E.L.D. When perceived insults, demeaning comments, or I-was-just-playing-with-you jokes fly at me, threatening to put me out of the game, I can be the winner rather than the loser. I position my “shield” to deflect the attack, refusing it to allow it to destroy me.

Unlike tennis, spiritual tennis, does not seek to destroy the opponent. Once I realized I could raise my shield and strike the comments, without returning insults or defending myself, I began to experience victory and walk with dignity rather than in despair.

I hold up my shield like this:

Say nothing to insult.
Hide myself in God and His dignity.
Intervene in prayer for the one who is “smacking” the ball at me.
Expect God’s comfort when I tell Him about my wounded spirit.
Listen for God’s wisdom.
Discuss my feelings with the one whose words or actions have hurt me.

Maybe you don’t “wear your feelings on your sleeves” as much as I do but, possibly you can relate to my malady. If so, the next time you are zinged with a comment that can hurt your feelings, purpose to put your “shield” up.

Almighty God, You tell me to put on the shield. Without Your protection I perish. Show me when and how to use the shield you have given me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

Van’s blog

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Review the above acrostic, S.H.I.E.L.D. Be prepared to use those steps the next time you feel demeaned or offended.

How do I handle my hurt feelings?

What is the underlying cause of my insecure thoughts?

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:35, “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me, and Your gentleness makes me great.”(NASB)

Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (ESV)

Ephesians 6:6, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” (ESV)

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Blogger Heather@Mommymonk said...

Excellent acrostic to remind ourselves of when our skin is feeling thin. Thanks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent reminder to use our shield when the world or friends are taking pot shots at us. Hurt feelings are tough to recover from alone. Our God has an incredible shoulder for us to burden. That is why I love him so. Thank you for today's devotion. God Bless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for for today's devotion. I will commit the acrostic to memory. I am glad that the Lord hears and cares about our hurts. I have brought my hurts to Him many times instead of replying and I noticed that He was working in the other person's life by their change of attitude. Thank you for all you do and all that you are, Lord Jesus.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I needed this today. The Lord spoke to me through a devotional in a book and this one and gave me the answers I needed. Thank you for allowing the Lord to literally work through you and help people like me! God bless you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one whose thin skinned. Recently I had allowed a kid's opinion of me effect me. Why would I allow a boy of 13 affect ne, but I was bothered that he didn't like me. I brought the matter to the Lord; however I was still fixated. It took a car accident to put it all in perspective. My young son and I walked out unscathed. Does it really matter what this other child thought of me, when the Lord watched over me and my son and proctected us?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have a thin skin and this devotional got me thinking about how I handle my emotions. Thanks for the insight.

*Quick note: The first scripture reference is actually 2 Sam. 22:3



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder, how many of us will admit that we may be the one serving the ball? Wow, I sure am a server, many times in joking ( which there is always an element of truth in). This sure caused me to repent. Have a great day!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had one of those "reading my own story" moments...

Earlier today (Sunday) I felt deflated and stung by two different comments my sister 'hurled' at me. My response was to defend myself, "set her straight", and privately sulk. I've been wondering to God for hours about whether it's even possible for me to have victory in these situations (since ignoring it does not make the pain go away.)

Leave it to God to give me a play-by-play solution the very instant I started my quiet time! It's neat b/c I read these daily, but I missed Friday's post and decided to read it today.

The SHIELD acronym is such a timely word, and more evidence to His grace! Blessings!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Monday morning, however I am glad that Friday's devotion was still present on the screen. It was just for me. I too am guilty of retreating in defeat when others offend me in some way. It will memorize the steps to success and apply them at first opportunity. Thanks. I love Proverbs 31 minitries.

Blogger Lily said...

I really like the devotionales thank you. the verse you sent 2 Samuel 2.23 the correct verse is ...2 Samuel 22.3.

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