Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This Christian Life: Playing to the End...

When a team gets behind in a football (American football for my UK friends) game in the second half, it can be very difficult to come back. I'm thinking of the BCS National Championship game between Texas and Alabama or even the Super Bowl this year between the Saints and the Colts. There was a point where both Texas and the Colts basically got behind late in the fourth quarter and they just shut down, realizing that they could not win. To watch the game after those pivotal points was to watch a total breakdown to the end. They just gave in to the loss. They stopped really playing.

Life is like that, isn't it?

I have come to realize that I am now fully in the second half of my life; of course that is if my life expectancy is 85-90 years. Most of my age-related peer group is fully invested in their careers, sending children to college and thinking ahead to what it will be like as 'empty-nesters' in the next 5-10 years. They live in relatively comfortable homes for the most part and with the exception of the travail all are experiencing due to the economic down turn and the health concerns of mid-life, they are 'plugging-away' at their routine.

There is a darker side to middle age though. The realization that your parents are now on the final run of life or even starting to pass away; they are experiencing serious, life-threatening illnesses that keep you on the edge of your seat. Or maybe that your teenage children are making poor decisions that seem to constantly drain you of finances or keep you in a constant worry mode. Additionally, your career has taken an unexpected turn and now you are having to retrain, retool for something else, which can be terrifying at this phase of life. Worse yet, maybe you have been married for 20+ years and all of a sudden you find yourself unable to communicate with the one in which have invested so much practically all of your adult life.

If these different problems hit all at once, they can cause a paralysis and a depression that can get so deep, so quickly that you just want to quit. Just like the football game where you fall behind after the half. You just give up. You quit your job, your marriage and your kids. You surrender to the stress.

Not to wear out the athletic metaphor - but truth be told - you have to play to the end of the game. Maybe at half-time you have to change your game plan, you have to run instead of pass or pass instead of run. Maybe you should go with a "man-to-man" coverage instead of a "zone" coverage. Or maybe you simply need to play with heart; remembering your assignments and pushing on through. You can't give up though. You have to play to the end of the game, giving it everything you've got.

Well, many of you reading this today are at half-time. Things aren't going quite like you thought and the stress is mounting. You might even be ready to throw in the towel. But friend, you can't. The game is not over and you can't let circumstances defeat you.

In our 'wizzy-go-fast' self-made world, you've got to find the one thing that can sustain you in life and all of its twists and turns. Constantly I find myself returning to several "God-reminders" in order to make it through the tough times and I hope they can help you too:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart

And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

[Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB95]

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:25-34 NASB95]

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NASB95]

Finish the game my friends.


  1. Your words are music to my ears because I'm at the 'two-minute warning'!


  2. Hi Jay,

    I blogged again for the first time since before Christmas - then I read yours since that date. It never ceases to amaze me that we seem to be thinking along the same lines. God is good and will lead the way... where ever that is... but in the meantime we find friends on the same path... pilgrims on a journey looking for the promised land.