Last night the Baltimore Colts beat the New England Patriots 35-34 in one of those games that will undoubtedly be a life-long memory for many who watched it.
I have been a Colts fan since I was a kid (when they were led by Johnny Unitas in Baltimore). And even though Unitas disowned the Colts when they moved to Indianapolis in 1984, I still enjoy watching them play. Peyton and company has brought back the old thrill!
The game last night started late. And, since I have not been sleeping as much as I probably need to, when the Colts fell behind 34-14, I gave it up…. A bad mistake if you enjoy watching great football games.
Interestingly, even though I had turned the TV off, I still found it difficult to get to sleep. Eventually, around midnight, I clicked the TV back on. I was stunned to see the final score!
Of course, athletic competition has always yielded an abundance of spiritual analogies. Read Paul.
But once again I was reminded of how easy it is for people to get discouraged by events and circumstances in life and miss out on an incredible outcome!
I’m sure you remember the story of Satan’s great tool sale. When someone asked about purchasing a particular tool, he said, “Um, Sorry. That one’s not for sale. It’s the most effective tool I’ve got. It’s called discouragement. I won’t give that one up.”
So many times in human history the situation has reached the point of seemingly total hopelessness before God supernaturally and dramatically changed the circumstances. (Think Valley Forge or Dunkirk.)
Charles Spurgeon once said, “He who would have his spirit bowed down even to the very earth, has only to fix his thoughts upon himself and his circumstances, instead of looking to God and his promises.”
Last night, I was frustrated because I had given up on what turned out to be an exciting, but mere, football game. Of course, there is no real tragedy in that. Just one of those, “Oh, Man!” moments.
But it is truly tragic when we allow the crush of hopeless circumstances (or the rush of a culture racing madly toward hell, or of a majority of our fellows willing to just go along with the flow) to cause us to quit early… to forget that there is a Sovereign God Who rules over all and Who certainly will have the last word.
Can we capitulate when we know that our God still reigns? How absurd! There simply is no defeat for the one who is in Christ! Even to die in Him is to win!
Do you think that Paul finally accepted defeat as the Roman ax rushed down toward his neck some 35 years after the crucifixion of his Lord?
He wrote these Spirit-inspired words. You decide.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-58)
And he left us with this…
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Incredible game! And Paul didn’t miss it! He finished it!
What about us? Does it ever seem that our team is losing? Does it seem easier to float than to fight?
Again, Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) shows the way…
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
And, by all means, stay in the battle!