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.

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Your Comments (13)

Thank you for opening my eyes with your insight. It's the second "nudge" today to refocus onto God for REAL powerful solutions and better attitude! My long-suffering husband will certainly appreciate this, too. Would sure need to keep my sight aimed in the right direction.

First of all I wanna thank God for walking with me each and every way. I love my life even though I'm having problems. I pray to god if he would show me the right way me and my husband been separate for nine years and he want us to get back together. Guide its each and every way. In the name of Jesus I pray.

You remind me of the fact that I have never been very athletic so what did God give me but two sons and two daughters who are very athletic. I have had to learn a lot about different sports. Thanks for the reminders of changes we must make that end up being god for us. I remember that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The Lord, He has our back....wether we are standing or laying on the gym floor. LOL.....He needs a good laugh now and then, don't you think!!! We all do things out of our comfort zone now and then and hope we don't look to silly! Game on...Bring it!!!!

Thanks for the reminder. I have been anxious about a situation in my life. I am a strong Christian
but sometimes forget to keep my mind centered on my Lord and Saviour Jesus. This article reminded me about what I should be focused on: God, not myself!

As a teammate from the prior two years, Shawnelle was so much fun to play with. In the midst of her fears of being hit, she was always cheering and encouraging all of us on. But when it came her time to hit it, she'd go for it just like she does everything else in life. "OK, it's my time, here we go!" A scream and an excited clap would follow, with a bright and beautiful smile radiating from all pores! I miss playing with her this year, but looking forward to playing on the opposite sides of the net in a couple weeks. I know her love of the Lord will shine through from opposing ends of the court.

Carrie! That is just so precious, kind, and sweet. Thank you. You made me smile so big! I miss playing with you and Jim, too. Such gentle encouragers! We did have some fun, didn't we? Here's to our upcoming match! And to dear friends who love one another just the way we matter which side of the net!

This is so true I can relate to this. God is bigger than our fears!

Thanks for the comment, Ruth.:) Yes! I'm learning to trust more.. and fear less. I think it may take a long while, but I'm getting there!

Great post, sprinkled with humor - nice touch!

Thank you,B.J. - your encouragement makes my heart smile!

Great post as always, Shawnelle, but I really want to know how the volleyball game went. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.

Thanks, Jennie. Hmm, let's see...that night we lost all three games. But I believe that I returned the ball over the net, and scored a point or two on serves. And I think that I had a little fun! Awesome night! P.S. We won the next week.:)