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Sports as Worship: 'Restore' is the Key Word

Sports as Worship: 'Restore' is the Key Word
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Keith Wahl, Valor Assistant Athletic Director

I can’t recall the first time I got stuck in the rabbit hole of HGTV’s House Hunters and Love It or List It, but I know I have wasted chunks of weekends in there. Don’t judge…you’ve been there, too.

by Keith Wahl, Valor Assistant Athletic Coach

I can’t recall the first time I got stuck in the rabbit hole of HGTV’s House Hunters and Love It or List It, but I know I have wasted chunks of weekends in there.

Don’t judge…you’ve been there, too.

My favorite shows on the channel show the restorative skills of the Property Brothers and, of course, Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper. Think about that power couple for a minute. Here are two people who not only restored a ton of homes, but they’ve restored an entire community with their work. They’ve impacted tourism in their small town by restoring houses. Their influence is nothing short of incredible.

But maybe their influence is rooted in something much bigger than them.

Over the past two years I’ve had the privilege of creating and teaching a Bible class at Valor with Jessika Caldwell, our Girls Basketball coach, that we call Sport as Worship.  (Big props to Baylor University’s Faith and Sport Institute for helping guide us along the way). In the early phase of the class, we teach the Biblical meta-narrative of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration by having the students create a sport. They create the sport, break the game through cheating, and then have to attempt to redeem and restore the spirit of the sport after it has been broken. The students experience the Biblical meta-narrative through something they’ve created from scratch, perhaps getting a very small glimpse of what God experienced as He created the world. 

When we seek to restore things to their created order, we’re tapping into the heart of the Creator. To “restore” means to bring back, reinstate, or repair so as to return it to its original condition. This is the word I’ve chosen for 2023. My hope is to restore things around me and before me in the coming year.

One thing I’m already observing in my early focus on restoration is that another person or being is required as a part of the restoration process. For example, last year my wife, Alyson, and I restored many elements of our marriage through the process of dating each other 52 times in 2022! It seems that restoring something requires two parties. Alyson and I share a marriage and it requires both of us to bring restoration to it.

Matthew 12:10-13 tells the story of a man with a shriveled hand coming to Jesus. Shriveled gives the impression that it was once full and has devolved into disability. It wasn’t created that way. The Pharisees were there trying to catch Jesus by healing on the Sabbath in this particular story, and Jesus restores the hand completely, as functional as the other. Because Jesus was walking with the Father and knew it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, the man’s hand was restored. Jesus shared a relationship with God and together they healed the man.

Through the class and by infusing Sport as Worship throughout our athletic department, Coach Jess and I are attempting to restore sports in the hearts of the athletes, coaches, and parents at Valor. Neither one of us could do the work alone and we certainly can’t do it without inviting the Lord to do it with us.

Restoration is the final stage of the Biblical meta-narrative and the thing we can be certain He will do with us. It’s the work we’re called to do in this world. If you want to know how to get into the center of God’s will for your life, find the things He wants to restore. God loves to partner with His created people in restoring relationships, people, and things. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen in the coming year and enjoying His presence along the way.

  • Athletics
  • Spiritual Life
  • Sports as Worship

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