The Sweet Spot

by: Kristi Overton Johson | November 19, 2017

The sweet spot. That place where everything comes together in one accord.

As a professional athlete for almost three decades, I know the difference between performing in the sweet spot and the…well, not so sweet spot. One is a place of confidence and finesse, the other, a place of doubt and struggle. I was water skiing competitively by age five. For years, I sought the sweet spot…the perfect combination of the boat’s power, my equipment, foot placement, body weight, body movement, and mental focus.

Oh, how sweet it was when I found the sweet spot! It led to world titles and world records—but most importantly, it led to peace, excitement, and adventure. Those seasons in the sweet spot were times of great confidence. There was no fear of the competition or the conditions and no fear of what might happen when I stepped off the safety of the dock and took to the water.

I remember experiencing the peace of the sweet spot at an event in Austria years ago. It was my turn to compete. The competition was fierce, and the conditions weren’t so great, but even amid the challenges, I had peace and confidence. I wasn’t afraid.

I had long wrestled with fear. Fear of falling. Fear of not being perfect. Fear of disappointing someone—anyone. But in that moment in Austria, I had no fear. Somehow in the depths of my soul, I just knew I was ready. I knew that no matter what, I would perform well and be victorious. Nothing could steal my excitement that day to do what I was gifted to do.

I don’t mean to sound boastful. I’m just still so amazed at the peace I had in that moment. I’d been in the same situation hundreds of times before, but fear, anxiety, and “what if” scenarios had always occupied my mind. But there, on that dock, in that season, it was different. I was actually looking forward to the ride—and when I was out on the water, I enjoyed it.

Did you know that there is a sweet spot in life, too? It’s found in Christ. In Him, you can experience a sweet peace in life, no matter where you are. In Christ, you can have confidence to step off the dock of life without fear because you know that He will be with you. His grace, provision, and strength will empower you to do what He’s called you to do. It took years, but I’m finally learning to live in that sweet spot in Christ.

Even as a Christian and ministry leader, I’ve experienced struggle, exhaustion, and anxiety. As a performer and perfectionist, I’ve fought the notion that I have to work hard to make things happen for God. I’ve been overcommitted, exhausted, and overwhelmed with a sense that I could never do quite enough.

It all came to a head one day. I’d been working hard for God, charging ahead with a heart to do good things for Him as a mother, wife, ministry leader, and athlete. But the work seemed never ending and the load too heavy to bear. One day, sitting out on my dock, I asked God why His way was so hard. Immediately I saw a picture in my mind. There I was, grasping the controls of a ski boat while simultaneously hanging my leg out the side of the boat and trying to ski! It was quite comical.

I started to laugh. “Lord, there’s no way I could ski and drive at the same time.” And then I realized…that was how I was living. I was trying to steer and power the direction of my life when I should have just been behind the boat—God— following His lead and using His power. It’s the only way to ski victoriously. And it’s the only way to live victoriously.

That day, I realized a better, sweeter way—His way. “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31).

I’m so thankful for God’s patience with me. He’s shown me a better way; He’s helped me realign my life with His will and shown me how to live in His strength, to let His unstoppable power and grace flow through me. I admit—I don’t always stay in the sweet spot. Left unchecked, my personality naturally runs ahead of God, but I’m learning to recognize when I leave Him so I can adjust my path and return. Praise God, He always welcomes me home.

I don’t want to live anywhere except in the sweet spot—it’s where strivings cease, anxiety dissipates, and life becomes fulfilling and impactful. It’s not always easy, but in the midst of the tough stuff, I find unexplainable rest, peace, confidence, joy, strength, excitement, and freedom from all that weighs me down.

I’m committed to moving forward with God in this better way. I don’t want to take one step apart from Him. I don’t want to move ahead; nor do I want to lag behind. I don’t want to control my life or fight against the plan of God. I want to lean into Him and go where He goes. As Galatians 5:25 says, I want to live by the Spirit and keep in step with Him—that’s where the sweet spot is.

To do this, I must be fully present, deliberately and consciously choosing to be with Him at all times. I must desire and submit to His leadership. As I’ve made these things my priority, I’ve seen God do what only He can do.

I used to think that taking time away from doing would cause me to lag behind in fulfilling the dreams God has placed on my heart. But as I’ve taken time to seek God’s face and to worship in His presence, God has been working behind the scenes. When I let go of the controls and trusted Him, He orchestrated connections, brought about resources and relationships, and provided opportunities galore for things like this magazine. Whatever I have needed in my personal life and ministry, He has provided. And He’s given me His strength to do what often seems impossible.

How do you know whether you’re living in the sweet spot or in your own strength? Here’s an example. I’ve shared my faith on stages across the world since I was 15. I’m quite comfortable speaking to people, but I often sing at these events as well, and for years, every time I sang, I experienced great nervousness and fear. Stomach pain, weakened knees, dry mouth—all were normal. Finally, I asked God to show me why singing was so hard for me, when I could walk into a maximum-security prison and speak to inmates or stand on a church or corporate stage to speak before thousands without fear.

The Holy Spirit had a simple answer to my question: “You speak in My strength. You sing in yours.”

He was right. When I spoke, I relied completely on the Lord. I didn’t want anyone to hear my words. Instead, I wanted them to hear the very heart of God. Therefore, I invited God to take over, to speak through me, to anoint me with His power, and to encourage people with His lifegiving truths. And He did.

But when I sang, I had never thought to ask God to sing through me, to empower and anoint my voice to bring hope and healing to others. On the contrary, I only thought about pleasing those who listened. I chose songs I thought people would like to hear and that fit my voice. Simply put, I sang for people, not God.

Once I learned to sing in God’s strength, my music transformed. No longer is music just a performance—now it’s a powerful tool the Holy Spirit can use to penetrate hearts with His love and truth. And you know what else? My fear has disappeared. And now, like my ski experience in Austria, I get to enjoy the ride! I’ve found the sweet spot I was looking for.

There is so much joy to be found in the sweet spot of surrender to Christ. God’s strength, peace, and power are so amazing. Are you experiencing them? Or are you exhausted, confused, afraid, and wondering how to get off the wild, overwhelming ride of life? Choose the better way. Let go of the controls. Tap into the never-ending power of the only Power Source that will never fail you. Trust Him to lead. He knows where He’s taking you, and He knows how to get there. His grace will be sufficient for your journey.

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