When you've got a rambunctious child, you've got to figure out a way to channel that rambunctiousness into something constructive. I know about rambunctious, believe me. The Johnsons do, too. And they turned spunk (much shorter word) into gold.
When Shawn Johnson was six, she was driving her parents crazy piling up the living room cushions to climb up on the family entertainment center. So, the Johnsons took their little acrobat to the new gymnastics coach in town, a recent arrival from China, Liang Chow.
Ten years later, the rest is history. The 4'9", 90-pound wonder girl from Iowa now wears the Olympic gold medal for gymnastics. We watched as she nailed a daring routine on the balance beam. She was unbeatable. And no couch cushions.
I was strangely moved by a comment one of NBC's Olympic commentators made. He said, "How many times has she done what we've just seen when there was no one there but her coach?" The others watching with me probably wondered why I responded out loud with one word - "Wow!" I knew I'd just heard the secret of a champion. Not just an Olympic champion, which I'll never be. But a spiritual champion, which I so want to be.
Champions don't just suddenly pop up. They are the product of a thousand invisible times with their coach. When others are off doing whatever, the champion is faithfully spending time listening to and learning from their coach. No shortcut. That's exactly how it is with Jesus. Your source of strength and victory is a thousand times with your Coach that no one ever sees.
Notice here that the men who tried to shut down the early followers of Jesus couldn't help but be impressed with one thing about them. "They took note that...these men had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). Of course. That was point one in their original disciple job description: "He appointed twelve...that they might be...with Him" (Mark 3:14). Not to run around doing things for Him - that's later. Just to be with Him. Because Jesus-living isn't ultimately about a performance. It's a relationship!
Being with Jesus. That's the primary assignment for everyone Jesus calls to Him. I know that my time with Him has to be the non-negotiable of my personal schedule - or my dark side starts leaking out. It's not about some legalistic devotions thing, but time with my Coach, listening to Him, letting Him change me and challenge me through what He shows me in His Word. It's not about reading a book. It's being with a Person. The Savior who died so we could be together.
Without those times with Him, there's no spiritual power, no spiritual authority, no victory when the challenges come. There's only one way to be ready when the world is watching and everything's on the line. It's all those times when there's no one there except your Coach. I just can't afford to miss my time with Him.