I Can

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

I rolled the extra basketball across the court to rest in the grass while Sam warmed up. A light breeze cut through the noon heat and it was game on. Time for my ninth grader to get in shape for high school ball. His focus was on his shot. Mine, his mindset.

“You’ve got this,” I called from my rebound position under the basket.

He missed.

“The rim is too big,” he shouted, then dropped and shook his head.

“Do it again,” I encouraged, “remember, you’re comin’ back from three months off.”

Shot. Miss.

“Ugh! My shot is off,” he said.

Shot. Miss. Make. Miss. Miss.

“I’m trash,” he yelled.

“Son, it’s important to start with a confident, positive mindset,” I reminded.

He scoffed at my coaching.

“It’s about skill, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I got my steps in running back and forth after the ball. He got his words in beating himself up for his lack of perfection.

I cranked the pump-up music and passed him the ball again. As he set up his shot, a little blond boy with a huge grin toddled toward our end of the court. He was drawn in by the magic of the moment. A ball bouncing.

Sam paused. Loud sigh.

“Do you wanna play?” I asked the boy.

I sprinted to the grass to retrieve the second ball and made a gentle pass to him.

His eyes lit up and he danced with every bounce. He lost himself in the beauty. Mindset.

Then like slamming on the brakes and screeching to avoid an accident, the sound of the little boy’s father broke through the sweetness.

“Get over here,” he growled with exaggerated finger pointing to where he stood.

“You’re not strong enough for that sport.”

Is this how it starts? Someone speaks “you can’t” into our lives and we believe it.

 The boy dropped the ball and trudged away.

Sam was my little boy. I had a job to do.

“Let’s go, you can do this!” I shouted.

“Once a shooter, always a shooter,” Sam said. Swish.

“That’s right!” I chimed. “Good one!”

Sam seemed to breakthrough. He kept pushing. He kept shooting. He kept going.

“Again!” I cheered.

Make.

“This is my shot,” he said as he sent another from the wing.

Make.

“I wanna sink three from the line,” he said, and he set up to shoot free-throws.

He was on a roll. As he set his words on “I can”, he found the flow.

Hope flows this way too. It flows from the idea that I CAN – with Christ. When I set my mind on what God says and on who He is and on how He works – I CAN.

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