by Joanie Butman
Superbowl Sunday. Short of making it a National Holiday, I don’t know how you could miss the buzz this event provokes. If tonight’s game is anything like the two playoff games leading up to it, it’s going to be another nail-biter, especially if you’ve got skin in the game. Even though the Patriots have become the team everyone loves to hate, you’ve got to admire the last-minute miracles that characterize some of their most defining moments.
Come to think of it, eleventh-hour intervention typifies many of the defining moments in the Bible. God specializes in last-minute miracles and nail-biting suspense as He calls for us to trust Him with the ultimate outcome for our lives. While it’s a lot more relaxing observing that kind of thriller from the sofa with nachos and beer in hand, God asks us to get in the game regardless of our couch-potato tendencies. In fact, the less prepared we are, the brighter His glory shines. No one can prepare for the smorgasbord of calamities this world offers. Life changes on a dime. The only training that will prepare you for the game of life is nurturing a relationship with the One who is ready and willing to battle any foe on your behalf.
Tom Brady may make it look easy, but there is nothing easy about reaching the level of achievement he has accomplished. It takes sacrifice, hard work, endurance, discipline, determination, resilience, and a will of steel. He knows how to keep his eye on the prize refusing to be distracted from his goal. He began his career as a last round draft pick. He didn’t start on top. Winners rarely do. It’s the grueling effort on the way up that defines them. And the work never ends. It takes just as much effort (if not more) to stay there.
Nowhere is that truer than in your spiritual life. Someone asked me recently how I developed the relationship I have today with Christ. I’d hardly consider it worthy of the Spiritual Hall of Fame. It’s more a work-in-progress with lots of highs and lows. Regardless, the short answer to the question is seeking and suffering. I spent years seeking and learning about Christ, but it took suffering and surrender to bring that knowledge from my head to my heart. It’s not a one-time event. A healthy spiritual life takes discipline, diligence and on-going effort. I get lazy all too often and lose focus, taking my eyes off the prize. It’s at those times when I am most likely to be blindsided, bringing me back to where I should have been all along – on my knees.
Keep in mind that God’s last-minute miracles don’t always resemble a win by worldly standards, but that’s because His is an upside/down Kingdom where the last will be first, and the first will be last (Matthew 20:16). Christ was the ultimate underdog. The ‘winners’ of His time were determined to defeat the threat of His rise to popularity. Little did they know that the defeat they devised would lead to His ultimate miracle and a victory that would last for eternity.
Your team may not be playing tonight, but we’ve all got skin in the game of life. There will be plenty of times when you feel like an underdog. Regardless, God has a game plan for each of us. The Bible is full of misfits and underdogs who chose to fulfill their roles regardless of their obvious shortcomings and failures. I will leave you with this poem to ponder if you are ever tempted to doubt your ability to be a contributing member of God’s team.
No More Excuses*
The next time you feel like God can’t use you, just remember:
Noah was a drunk,
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zacchaeus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer AND
Lazarus was dead!
Now! No more excuses! God can use you to your full potential.
Besides you aren’t the message, you are just the messenger.
So, who will I choose to root for tonight? The same person I choose to root for each Sunday and every other day of the week. When all is said and done, it won’t matter who the victor is today. We all know Who wins in the end.