Monday, June 18, 2012

Will We Accept Defeat or Walk in His Victory?

Yesterday was Father’s Day and the kids came home to visit and celebrate over dinner.  After a very hot day, we received the blessing of some cloud cover and the four of us soon found ourselves in the back yard playing catch with a football.  

I broke away for a few minutes and spent a little time in the front yard watering flowers and doing my best to keep them alive (not a strong suit of mine).  Coming back around the house, I heard the familiar sound of clinking horseshoes and realized the game had changed.  Now, there are many things - like gardening and math - that I don’t do well, but throwing horseshoes is one of the things I do worst.  Seriously.  When I throw a horseshoe, it looks more as if I’m bowling.  It’s a pathetic sight and often rather embarrassing.   I usually try to wiggle out of the game somehow, but since there were just four of us, I knew there was no hope of sitting out as a cheerleader.

Our family is competitive.  Very competitive.  We play games to win and, let’s just say that mercy is not a strong spiritual gift for any one of us.  At the end of a game, there is always grace and kindness combined with sometimes-gentle ribbing, but in the heat of the battle, we’re focused and purposeful.  Our mission is clear:  beat the socks off our opponents, in love, of course.   

As I neared the horseshoe pit, Mike called out, “Taylor and I are on a team against you and Chris.”  Grand.  Not only did I have to play, I found myself paired with the most competitive person in our group.  “I’m sorry, Chris,” I said immediately.  “I’m terrible at this game.”

My son who often has tremendous wisdom that can only come from the Lord called back from the opposite end of the pit, “Don’t be sorry!  Be successful!” 

We had a wonderful evening and I made many terrible throws that brought snickers and jokes from those who love me most.  Chris and I won the game, and by the grace of God, I even contributed a few points.   This morning as I reflected on the joys of the time we share (too infrequently) as a family, Chris’s words struck my heart.  “Don’t be sorry!  Be successful!”  While he delivered them as encouragement to buckle down and win a game, they offer sage advice and are words to live by.

Before I continue this thought, let me clarify:  I don’t believe that God cares a lick about who won our game of horseshoes or whether or not Tim Tebow throws a touchdown pass.  His concern is that we glorify Him with our lives, win or lose. The Lord’s concern is not about our winning games, but about our standing victorious over the enemy of this world, honoring Him, and advancing His Kingdom. 

Too often, we accept defeat before we ever begin a thing, when the God of the heavens is on our side and provides for our victory!  How many times have we said such things to ourselves as:

  • “I can’t kick this addiction”
  •  “I just can’t please my husband so why try?”
  •  “I know carrying this extra weight isn’t healthy, but I don’t have the willpower stop snacking or start exercising.”
  •  “They’ve asked me to serve at church but I can’t muster the energy."
  •  “I can’t stop worrying about my kids and it keeps me awake at night.”
  •  “I’m afraid of failure (or success) so it’s best to not even try.”
  •  “I’ve been hurt in the past, so I avoid getting close to people.”

We often accept defeat without reminding ourselves that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).   It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, yet we burden ourselves with a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).  We are often so bogged down with slavery to fear, worry, guilt, shame, and confusion, that we settle for mediocrity rather than the very best that God desires for His children.  We see ourselves as victims rather than victors, and turn our backs on the blessing and joy that God has waiting for us when we seek Him and allow His power and strength to work through us.  

My challenge to you is to accept the sound advice of my son and “Don’t be sorry, be successful!”  I’ll rephrase it, however, and encourage us all to refuse defeat and walk in His victory!   It’s ours for the taking and when God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

How has God shown you that He strengthens you personally and enables you to do all things through Him?   Please share your comments.