I love football! Oh yes, I do! I’m already excited for the Super Bowl, even though we don’t know who’s playing yet. I’m also holding back sadness for the long stretch of months after the Big Game when there will be no football games. *sniff*
There’s lots of life lessons in football, but one of my favorites becomes even more intense during play off season — It’s not over till it’s over. Ok, sometimes a team dominates the score board and the game is “over” early on. But when you have two strong teams (play off games!) or when the score is close, the last seconds are the most critical. (We certainly saw that this weekend in the Seahawks vs Vikings game!!)
This means you can’t give up at half time. Or in the third quarter. Sometimes you can’t get that first touchdown on the board until the 4th quarter. Doesn’t mean you won’t win the game.
What’s the Score?
So how are the football games of your life going? How is the Work game going? How is the Marriage game going? How is the Prayer game going? How about that Personal Growth game?
Are you in the first quarter and up by 10? Awesome! Keep it up. Are you feeling wiped out by a tough first half and headed to the locker room to regroup? The Lord will meet you there and help you get back on the field again.
Is there a situation in your life that feels like the game is “over” even though it’s not? Are you still fighting or have you given up? I mention this verse often, but it’s a good one to remember: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” (Galatians 6:9.) If we do not give up. As I ask these questions, I’m taking inventory in my life and I find there are some things I’ve been praying for that need renewed faith.
I find myself wondering if I should call a particular game “over,” giving up on a real victory from God, settling for a loss. If you’re an athlete, you know how important the mental game is. Once you think you’ve lost, you have. I need to renew my mind! (Rom. 12:2) I need to stay in the game, to continue to present my requests to God and to walk in His peace, knowing He will answer. (Phil. 4:6 & 7) I need to pick up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17) and apply Bible truth to every situation.
The Fourth Quarter
Maybe you’re in the 4th quarter and down by 21. If you feel discouraged by a situation in your life (or something you’re praying for in someone else’s life,) don’t give up now. Dig in. Dig deep and keep going. Renew your faith by fixing your eyes on Jesus, by remembering how big and great and capable and faithful God is. Remember the One in Whom you have placed your trust. There is nothing to worry about. He can handle it and He will do it. Keep praying. Keep believing. And He will give us wisdom in all things. We have only to ask. (Don’t forget to ask!) James 1:5
The big difference between our life and a football game is that we know our final outcome will be a WIN, but we still have to fight for it.
All. The. Way. To. The. End.
Everything that happens before those final seconds in a game definitely matters, but games are won and lost in the final countdown time after time. This means if we want to win, we have to finish strong.
I used to tell my kids they needed to “finish strong” as they started the fourth quarter of the school year. It’s hard to do, especially once you come back from Spring Break and the end is in sight. It’s easy to “check out” and just let the game clock run down, not caring anymore about the score. But we can’t do that. We have to finish strong if we want to WIN.
So don’t give up. Face whatever the biggest challenge is in your game. Take it to the Lord–again. Pray about it–again. Release it–again. God will bring you the victory. Keep moving down the field.