“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
If you are a football fan, then this is your favorite time of the year – playoff time. The regular seasons for both college and professional teams have ended and only the best have moved on to play in the playoffs or one of the many collegiate bowl games. For me, I enjoy watching the sport played at the highest levels – the very best teams peaking at just the right time to produce the most entertaining games possible.
What I don’t look forward to is the hours of analysis that go into the hype before the game. The NFL’s schedule allows for two weeks preparing for, and analyzing, that one game. The matchup for this year’s national championship in college football has been known for over a month, providing sports reporters 30+ days to analyze what might happen during a 3 hour game. Oh and the information they share! I saw a three minute segment on one TV show talking about the hotels where the teams were staying, trying to find advantages and disadvantages in the accommodations. So what can be learned from all this? I suppose it teaches us that a large segment of our population loves football. It also teaches us that we have way too many television networks with nothing valuable broadcast. But in the midst of all of this, I found something to which I could relate and share.
A big factor in many playoff games is experience. Teams who are making their first appearance on a big stage might struggle with the limelight of participating in a championship game. However, teams who have been in these games before know what to expect. That experience often proves to be helpful in avoiding distractions that could hurt their performance. Because of this, experience will play a big role in pre-game discussions and predictions of the outcome. Of course, once the game starts, experience doesn’t guarantee victory. Teams who win multiple championships couldn’t get there until they won their first – back when they were upstarts who played and won despite being new to it all. Those are the teams who didn’t believe that it was just good enough to be there, or that if they didn’t win now it wouldn’t matter because they would always be back. They took hold of every opportunity, starting with the first, and gave everything they had to be successful in spite of what came their way.
In life, we may find ourselves faced with similar circumstances. We all know somebody who applied for that first job and got rejected because they lacked experience. Of course, the frustration comes when you need experience to get the job but nobody will hire you because you don’t have any experience. Or maybe you were losing your job because your boss wants to replace you with somebody with more experience – also frustrating considering you are currently doing the job for which you lack experience. Both scenarios will test our patience, our resolve, and most importantly our ability to trust in the promises God has spoken over us. This is key because while we are prone to failure, God’s word always accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Still uncertain? Think about that person you know who has stepped out into something totally new; risking comfort, safety, and pride to pursue a dream. Rarely do they make that move on their own terms, or after they have gained enough experience to be completely ready. Waiting for the perfect moment only improves our ability to wait. I recently heard Dr. Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders describe this type of challenge as the opportunity to make a choice. We can use it as a stepping stone on which we propel ourselves to something new, bigger, better, and God-ordained, or we can make it a tombstone under which we lie down, give up and die. Trust in the Lord to take you to that place. Pray and seek His will for your life, and once you know what He is calling you to do, pursue it with confidence and purpose. Paul’s words in Ephesians 2 confirm this as he reminds us that we were created in Christ for a purpose. If we are striving to do the work God created us to do, we can be assured that He will bring success to our endeavor.
As for your favorite football team, stick with the sportswriters for projections.