Lights Out

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Casey and I have a standing date night every Sunday evening after church (we have a night service), so we plugged our ears and turned off our phones so that we could watch the Super Bowl together over a huge plate of nachos.  We were floundering on who to root for– I had some old Charger Girl teammates on the field cheering for the Niners, plus the QB is from the Central Valley, and we valley folk like to pretend we know everyone who ever lived within a 60 mile radius.  I’ve always liked the Ravens, though, so that’s who I was going for.  Maybe there is only room in my heart for one California team.  We were really getting into the game and the Ravens were dominating… when all of a sudden… lights out!  And not only out, but out for like half an hour!  During the Super Bowl!  It was so weird!  The outage gave plenty of time for the Niners to recoup and slowed down Baltimore’s momentum.  It was looking like a comeback was possible, but the Ravens eked out the win in the end.

One of the most incredible things about cheering for an NFL team was just being in the facility where the guys trained.  We met in their conference rooms and picked pom pom scraps off of their practice fields.  We walked through their weight rooms and ran on their track.  We were constantly in the presence of athletic greatness.  The players are elite.  They practice for everything.  They watch film and study their opponent’s every move.  They X and O and O and X and pore over stats like nobody’s business.  They teach them to be ready for everything….but no one could have prepared them for what happened yesterday.  They just had to warm up again and hit the field.

The Super Bowl power outage got me thinking about preparation.  We, as God’s elite, his chosen holy people, are commanded to “preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2).  What would it look like if a player just decided that he didn’t need to work out anymore?  That he was just going to watch from the sidelines?  That he just wanted to collect his million-dollar paycheck and go home?  His selfish behavior would do nothing to advance the team’s goals and he would begin to become a drain on its resources.

You are one of His elite.  You have been picked to be a part of His team, with all the tools and assets you need to win.  We play for the trophy.

 First, you gotta become a player.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Rom 10:13)

Push to be recognized as a first-round pick.  

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  Isaiah 6:8

Train as one of the elite.  

“…train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

Be prepared for everything.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13).

Play to win.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:24-25).

The enemy is going to try to throw any wrench he can into your game.  If you’re totally prepared, even lights out won’t throw you off course.  Our goal is the hope that we were called to–that grace to be given us when Jesus Christ is revealed.  He is the MVP, the all-star quarterback leading his team to victory.  And, this game is fixed.  It’s already been won.  That doesn’t mean it will be easy, it just means that even in the darkest hours we have hope for the win.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 3:14

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