Anyone familiar with tennis, ping-pong, or volleyball understands the words, “The ball’s in your court.” If I speak these words to my playing partner it means that the match cannot continue until he hits the ball back to me. Thus, the line has become an idiom for, “The next move is yours.”
There have been times in my walk with the Lord when I’ve gone as far as I could go on my end. At that point the ball was in God’s court. If the situation was going to progress any further He would have to hit the ball back to me. In one sense, it’s comforting to get to such a place. It’s comforting because the pressure and responsibility is off you for the moment. In another sense, however, such a place is frustrating. It’s frustrating because you can grow impatient waiting for God, who seldom rushes anything, to hurry up and hit the ball back to you. Honestly, there have been times in my life when I felt like God had stopped playing the point altogether, walked over to the sidelines, toweled Himself off, and was enjoying a cool drink while I stood out on the hot court waiting for Him to return the ball to me.
As we study the Bible we find numerous examples of my subject today. Noah could obey God’s instructions to the letter and build that ark, but He couldn’t make it rain (Genesis chapters 6 and 7). The rain was a ball in God’s court. Moses could obediently return to Egypt and confront Pharaoh about freeing the people of Israel from their bondage, but He couldn’t provide the ten plagues that would eventually break Pharaoh’s will (Exodus chapters 3-12). Each one of those was a ball in God’s court. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego could refuse to bow down before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image and allow themselves to be thrown into the fiery furnace, but they couldn’t keep themselves safe in that fire (Daniel chapter 3). That was a ball in God’s court. Peter could remain faithful to the cause of Christ and allow himself to be thrown into prison by Herod, but he couldn’t cause his miraculous release from that prison (Acts 12:1-19). That was a ball in God’s court.
Perhaps you are reading this right now and you’ve done all that God has told you to do about a certain situation, but things seem to be at an utter standstill. That’s okay. It just means that the ball is now in God’s court and He is taking His time with the return. Trust me, you’ll know when He has hit the ball back to you and the next move is yours. That might be today. It might be next week. It might be next year. But whenever it happens you’ll know it.
Oh, and by the way, I should also mention that God never hits a “winner” that you can’t return. This is because His goal with you is to always keep the point going, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. You see, in that way the game never ends, and He absolutely loves playing with you.