This Patriots fan was up too late last night watching their ‘slugfest’ with the Chiefs. What a game, better, of course, because that Pats won. The game of football has many life lessons for us in it. In no special order, here are a few.
Having a comfortable lead in the first half does not take away the need to keep playing through the second!
The Pats went into the locker room at half time looking like sure winners. Their opponents found some kind of inspiration and came out to put up a real fight, even taking the lead in points for a portion of the 4th quarter! God reminds us to stay focused, to remain faithful.
I have witnessed the collapse of faith in so many in the second half of life! Those who were always in worship, who taught Sunday School, who gave generously, who brought others to faith find new prosperity, more opportunities for leisure, and they drift away. “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1, NIV)
There are stand-out players but their success rests on being part of TEAM.
Tom Brady is inarguably an outstanding quarterback. His statistics and skills are amazing. But, as good as he is, without those other 10 players on the field, linemen blocking, receivers ready to catch passes, coaches strategizing on the sidelines, Brady would be unable to get the win.
Are you creating and strengthening your team? Do you value that family who does life alongside of you, your church family who should be helping your spiritual gift to mature and become fruitful? Paul’s metaphor for us is the body and he asks this question that has an obvious answer: “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:17-18, NIV) Let’s play our position in life – wherever God has placed us – for His glory.
Even when a play falls apart, the game goes on.
Last night, at one point, Brady made an inexplicable choice to hang onto the ball when he under pressure. He ran around the back field looking for a receiver and ultimately was sacked, losing the ball in the process. That fumble led to the opposing team scoring the go ahead touchdown. A second’s misjudgment nearly changed the course of the game, but the Pats did not retreat to their bench to mourn. They regrouped and fought back.
We are all going to have those moments when we make a poor choice and it might be one that knocks us off our feet! We must not quit. 33 years ago I made one of those and it cost me, my family, and the church I served dearly. For a time I thought perhaps I was finished as a pastor, but an older, wiser counselor slipped his arm around my shoulders and reminded me that “God isn’t finished with you so pick yourself up and go love people.” God and others gave me grace and though that scar stills stings, it has become a place of grace in my life. The Word says “do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36, NLT)
There will be another game next week.
Part of the Patriots success is said to be the discipline that their coach creates. Win or lose, they are back at practice, refining skills. Why? Because they will be facing yet another team next week.
Have you under-estimated the value of doing the right things in the pursuit of God and His purposes? Are you convinced that there is some magical moment when He will just make you a saint, make prayer easy, cause worship to be wonderfully exciting? Jesus saves us by grace through faith. We cannot make ourselves ‘right with God.’ However, mature, effective, solid Christians know the importance of daily spiritual discipline, which keep them in tune with God, aware of the Spirit’s voice. They pray, even they don’t feel like it. They show up for worship even after the ‘worst week’ ever. They give as a principle not a convenience. They serve when they want to sit.
Jesus invites us into a yoke with Him. “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, CEV) “Learn from me,” He says.
So there are my thoughts for this Monday morning. God has a plan and purpose for YOU. Pursue Him. Get with His team. Keep going. When our season finishes in His time, if we have played well, we will be able to borrow Paul’s words, one I love, that he wrote near the end of his season. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NLT)
Abba, I thank You for a new week, for the opportunities that You are creating.
May my mind and my heart be ready to listen, quick to follow Your lead.
Deal with my failures, showing me a better way.
Give me vision that will keep me from wasting days on worthless things.
Jesus, for the privilege of being Your disciple and called onto Your team
I give humble thanks and pray that I will honor You – thought, word, and action.