Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Eyes on the Lord

We’re on the way to church and my stomach churns. My palms are damp. You’d think something serious is going down. In my world, it is.

I’m about to play volleyball.

Sounds non-threatening. Playing volleyball with friends in a church league. But when the Lord formed me in secret places, I missed a pinch of athleticism. And the only skill I’ve managed to develop over the years is being hit with the ball. Doesn’t matter what kind of ball it is. Baseball. Basketball. Volleyball. Playing or spectating, the ball will find its way to my face.

Being five-foot-thirteen (OK, six-one) adds to my stress. When I take the court, there’s that moment when the opposing team sees me as a spiker. A slammer. A threat. By the time we’re two minutes into the game, the illusion crumbles and the truth leaks out. I may as well hold a sign: Get your points here. I worry that I’ll let my teammates down. That I’ll embarrass myself, my husband and my boys.

“You OK?” Lonny asks. He’s driving and he smiles in a way that’s supposed to offer encouragement.

“Sure,” I say.

“You’ve gotten better,” he says.

I grimace and wonder again why I agree to this form of fellowship. It’s my third season. And there are parts of volleyball league that I adore. Seeing my friends. Meeting new people. Being part of a team. Cheering others on.

It’s just the playing part that gets me down.

We weave along the country road that takes us to church. It’s early evening and the sky is washing a gentle blue. There are pink streaks. Watercolor strokes of orange. Spring is breaking through the winter bleak.

And my heart fills with awe for the Lord.

Suddenly I understand that when I’m worried, stressed, filled with fear (yes, even over volleyball), my eyes are on myself. I’m front and center. Magnified. Glorified. Even if it’s in a negative, fearful way, it’s a self-centered kind of pride.

Oh, there is a better place for my eyes to be!

Thank you, Lord, for being all-powerful. Glorious. Magnificent. Thank you for painting the sky, and for being so loving and kind that you’d walk daily with me. Even on the volleyball court.

When my eyes are on God, my fear shrinks small.

“Ready?” Lonny asks as we park the van. I see our team members heading for the gym door. One friend sees us, waits and waves.

I smile and grab my athletic shoes from the floorboards. “Yep,” I say. “Game on.”

My insecurities versus God’s strength.

It’s really no match at all.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.