Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Football Weekend

OK, I’ll admit it. I am very excited. Nothing energizes and excites me like football season. I was definitely not disappointed this weekend! I watched Strom Thurmond defeat Batesburg-Leesville in a dramatic way, I was thrilled to see Appalachian State upset Michigan (with the help of one of Edgefield’s own, number 16, CoCo Hillary), I appreciated South Carolina’s stunning win over Louisiana Lafayette, and was on the edge of my seat for the entire Clemson vs. Florida State game.

Basically, all my teams won this weekend. That doesn’t happen often. Therefore, I just know this will be a great week!

I guess I’ll join the rest of the world and give a nod to the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Who in the world would have thought that Michigan, who was ranked number 5 in the nation, could fall to Appalachian State? I don’t think anyone questioned the validity of the football program at Appalachian State. They are a great football team. However, when it comes to match-ups like this one, the larger schools have more players that usually can out last and wear out even great smaller school teams.

There were Saturdays in recent years when I was afraid Furman might walk out of Death Valley (In SC, not Louisiana) with a win. The Tigers just wore down the smaller school by the third quarter and pulled out the win.

“What does any of this have to do with anything?” you may ask. I say it has a great deal to do with our world and how we view things. We tend to think all of the power, prestige, and influence goes to the strong, wealthy and persuasive. We tend to think that there is no hope for the “little people” anymore.

How many businesses just give up because Wal-Mart comes into town? How many battles are lost because the enemy looks too large or powerful? How many situations in our lives are not resolved because we think we are not skilled enough to handle them?

Because of this we cheer wildly when the “underdog” wins because we would like to overcome the greater enemy ourselves. We have hope that we can rise to greatness in our own situation. If Appalachian State can beat Michigan, then we see many things as possibilities that we may have thought to be impossible before.

Jesus said many times that the last shall be first and the first shall become last. (Matthew 19:30, 20:16; Mark 9:35, 10:31; Luke 13:30) God also doesn’t like the proud. In the Bible, those who think too highly of themselves usually do not fare very well in the long run.

Consider what we call “The Beatitudes” in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus says that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are the blessed ones. Isn’t it interesting also, that Jesus reserves His most biting words for those who were in the most powerful positions of those days?

Imagine this. On one side of this contest is an empire that covers almost the entire known world. There is an advanced form of government, an elevated, intelligent society, and a military that was unstoppable. Within this larger body is a religious group that has aligned itself with the government to maximize its influence and power. This group not only has the power to dictate morality and political allegiance to those who follow it, but also is given the authority by the larger government to carry out justice as deemed necessary to its people.

On the opposing side of this conflict is a thirty-something year-old carpenter’s son, and a ragtag group of twelve men. One of whom is a traitor, and the rest are undependable at best. In fact, when the real contest begins, they all run away to hide, leaving only this one, solitary man against the mighty Roman Empire and the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Some would say He lost the contest, because they killed Him. However, just as the last seconds were ticking off the clock for the end of the game, the ground rumbles, the stone was rolled away, and our Savior burst forth from the tomb in a glorious way.

What in your life seems too big to handle? Can you truly say that it is greater than the monumental test that Jesus faced? If God fought for Him to save you, do you not think He will stand with you as well?

He will. I’ve read the end of the book.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more
death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former
things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

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