The victor’s timetable and my personal agenda

olympic-games-1608127_1280I’m not a big sports fan. Never have been. Something about being naturally clumsy and the least competitive person on the planet. But, oddly enough, I do enjoy watching the Olympics. This year was quite a year for Team USA, and not just for our swimming (that Katie Ledecky, man) and gymnastics teams.

We’ve got over 100 medals, around 40 of which are gold. That’s outrageous. Granted, the U.S. had more than 500 athletes competing this year. That makes a difference. But that doesn’t change how cool it is to get to hear the national anthem so many times in so many different sports.

Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles

Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles

What I find most interesting is that after I watch the U.S. win at the Olympics, I often feel like a champion. But the athletes are champions. They worked hard. They sacrificed. They risked everything they had invested to put their skills to the test against the top athletes in the world, and they came out on top. They deserve the medals they wear. So how does that translate into me feeling like a winner?

Every Team USA athlete who competed in the Olympics this year was a representative of his or her country. He or she went to the Olympics to represent me (broadly speaking). So when he or she wins, America wins. I win. We send the best of our best (and this year, I feel like I can actually say our best truly are the best and not just in their physical skill but in their character as well), and when they win, we get to claim the victory with them, even though they’re the ones who did the work.

Faith works the same way

That’s basically what God did. There was a battle that needed to be won, and all our futures hung in the balance. So He sent His best—His only Son—to fight for us, to take our place and our punishments. And Jesus won. So because He won, we all won (Romans 8:37). Or, at least, we all have the opportunity to win. There is the matter of choosing a side, of course.

It’s done. It’s over. The war is finished, and the victory is God’s, and by extension ours, if you are a follower of Christ. But that doesn’t mean we won’t still face daily battles.

All those Olympic athletes had to come back to the real world after Rio. They had to leave behind the battle fields they were used to and forge into an unknown future, possibly in areas and fields they know little about. Even the G.O.A.T. has to pay bills.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Even though it feels like we’re the ones fighting, victory is always God’s.[/su_pullquote]

Every day is still a battle. But does that mean we’re on our own? Never. (Deuteronomy 31:8) God says over and over again that He’ll never leave us. He’ll never make us face our battles alone. But there’s something we’ve got to remember, folks. Even though it feels like we’re the ones fighting, victory is always God’s.

He gives us the strength to face the challenges of the day. He gives us the energy to keep fighting when we feel like we want to quit. He helps us stand up when we fall down, and He gives us a reason to keep pushing long after our personal motivation has run dry. He’s the only one big enough to turn the tide of a battle in His favor.

So because victory is His, that means we have to wait for Him to achieve it.

Victory doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t win an Olympic medal on a whim or by accident. Competing in the Olympics takes years of practice and hard work, strategy and intense concentration, and fierce, intentional choices. Do you think winning a battle is different? It takes time. It takes effort. It takes dedication, passion, and, yes, sometimes even failure. Or maybe it just feels like failure, because often failure is just another opportunity to rise to the challenge.

Because of Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, Tianna Bartoletta, Amanda Elmore, Virginia Thrasher, Helen Maroulis, Connor Fields, Brady Ellison, David Boudia, Daryl Homer, and so many others who won a medal (or medals) at Rio, I can say I am a citizen of a winning country. I belong to a nation that allows people to chase their dreams, to work hard to make their dreams a reality. And even though I’ve never swam a competitive lap in my life, never ran any distance, never shot with any accuracy, and only mastered the belly flop as a form of diving, I get to enjoy victory because all those people and others achieved it for me.

micah7-7Because of Jesus, I’m a citizen of Heaven. I’m a child of God, with free access to His throne, invited to approach Him whenever I need Him. I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. I don’t have to fear what I don’t understand. Jesus won my battles for me.

But Michael Phelps didn’t swim faster because I asked Him to. Virginia Thrasher didn’t hit those targets with her air rifle because I told her it was time. All of those athletes competed at their own speed, their own rates, and according to their own plans. So why do I think Jesus is going to be any different?

Victory isn’t mine. It’s His. And that means I have to wait for His timing instead of pushing my own agenda.

[su_pullquote]Victory isn’t mine. It’s His. And that means I have to wait for His timing instead of pushing my own agenda.[/su_pullquote]

I don’t like waiting. Once I know the direction I’m pointed, I want to forge ahead without looking back. And while that may be an admirable trait at times, when victory isn’t up to me, that sort of impatience can spell disaster.

We all have a choice when it comes to obtaining victory, even if we’re not the ones fighting for it. You can try to fight for yourself, sure. But that will be like a regular human being trying to race Michael Phelps in a pool. You can try to win, but you aren’t going to. Sorry to break it to you, folks, but that’s just not going to happen.

So if you can’t fight for yourself, you have to fall back on the other option. You have to let someone else fight for you. And that means you have to wait for them to make a move. Waiting isn’t fun, but if the person you’re cheering for has your best interests in mind, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Micah 7:7

Advertisements

Getting ahead of God only makes more trouble in the end

Last Friday didn’t go the way I expected. And I mean, in a major way. I’d spent all day Wednesday and all day Thursday helping a friend get ready for a Seder Meal, and it was so much fun! But it was time consuming. But I knew I’d have all of Friday to catch up on work stuff.

I got home from the Seder Meal around 11pm, and I’d just gotten into bed and was almost asleep when a gust of wind hit the house so hard that I thought my bedroom windows would shatter.

I laid still for a moment, because usually with wind gusts, they die down a second after they hit. But this one didn’t. It kept blowing–and blowing–and blowing, and the windows were in danger of shaking apart in their sills. That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to stop.

So I jumped out of bed and scrambled down to the main floor of the house where my parents were also up, and that’s when we heard this massive crash outside. And then the power went out.

No big deal. Power outages are fairly common in the country, but it wasn’t how I’d planned to spend my sleeping hours on Thursday/Friday. When it became clear that the power wasn’t going to come back on, we settled back in to sleep. We got a few hours in, and when we climbed out of bed, the power was still off. When the sun was up, we tried to assess damage (which was minor), except for the machine shed across the drive that had lost its roof (it ended up in the yard).

We waited. And waited. And waited, and still the power didn’t come back on. Wichita had been hit severely too. Lots of folks had damage. Lots of folks were without power. But my grandparents in Wichita? They still had power. That meant they had running water and internet access. And I desperately needed to get some work done.

So by 2pm Friday afternoon, my folks and I decided to go into Wichita. It worked great. Went in. Got a little bit of work done. Got an okay night’s sleep, and we came back out to the farm Saturday morning. And guess what we found?

Yup. The power was back on! Hooray! It was great news! … and then we discovered that the power had come back on 3pm Friday. It had come back on an hour after we left.

Figures, right?

Shabbat candle at the 2015 Seder Meal, Andover, KS

Shabbat candle at the 2015 Seder Meal, Andover, KS

Today’s verse is Micah 7:7.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
I wait confidently for God to save me,
and my God will certainly hear me.

Too often I run ahead of God. I want what I want, and I won’t wait for Him to tell me what He wants me to do. I’ve followed the Lord long enough to know how He reacts to my stubborn heart. He lets me go my own way for a little while until I’ve worn myself out, and then He gently leads me back to where I started.

That’s how He does it sometimes. Other times, He smacks me on the back of the head, and I can almost hear Him say, “Really? Again?”

It’s not easy to take our plans to God. You have to stop what you’re doing and turn them over and then stand still while you wait for Him to show you what He wants you to do. Granted, sometimes you don’t have time to wait, and you have to make a decision immediately. It’s in those times you need to make sure your heart is in the right place and that you’re seeking God with everything you have.

But in the moments in life where you have a choice to make and you have time to think about it, it’s really tempting to just run ahead of God. It’s easy to base your decisions on what’s right for you instead of what God says is right.

It’s so much easier to just pack up and go into town where you can have an internet connection. But is it really easier? Or is it just busy work so you can feel like you’re accomplishing something? If we’d have stayed put, we would have had power without having to pack everything up and carry it into Wichita.

In the end, it probably cost us more money, and I know it cost us extra time and frustration and logistical issues. How many times has that same scenario played out in my life? I run into an unexpected obstacle, and I face a choice–to do what I want to do or to wait until God tells me.

It’s not easy to wait. Even if you’re actively waiting, you still feel like you’re not doing anything (that’s a lie, by the way).

Now, in this instance, I did get to visit with my grandparents, and that was great. But what about the next time I run into some inconvenience in my life? Will I remember to ask God what He wants me to do? Or will I just do what I want because it seems to be the easiest option at the time?

Think about it now. Decide where you’ll go for help now before you need it. And don’t be afraid to wait on God.