Don’t worry, if you’re not a football fan, this blog post will still be relevant. Trust me and keep reading!
So here we are in the post-football seasonal slump. Super Bowl 52 is history and if you’re a football fan like I am, you might be experiencing symptoms similar to seasonal affective disorder right about now. Sure, I am a little bummed because my team lost, but the real downer will come this Sunday afternoon when I go through literal withdrawals. Sigh… there will be no football to watch on TV. Thank goodness the Winter Olympics start this week to help fill the void. But regardless of the amazing athleticism on display in PyeongChang, I will still be mourning the end of football season until warm weather entices me outside on Sunday afternoons.
For people who don’t love football, the fact that I experience something akin to the doldrums when the season ends might sound ridiculous. After all, football (or any other sport really) is not as important as spending time with those you love, volunteering to help those less fortunate, or many other much more valuable and worthwhile things to do. On that fact, I completely agree with you. And if I was forced to choose between watching a football game or spending time in those ways, I would (and I have) give up watching a game.
However, there are things about football or any other “non-essential” activity that do truly matter. In fact, they may even have an eternal outcome, not just the final score on the billboard. Because the spiritual impact doesn’t seem as obvious, we often tend to get squirmy and uncomfortable even thinking that God would care about something so seemingly temporary or superficial. For example, as things came down to the wire during Sunday night’s game, a friend of mine turned to me and asked, “do you think it’s okay to say a prayer right now for the Pats?” She was serious. And every now and then, I hear someone say, “God doesn’t care who wins or loses a game… or gets a medal, etc.”
I contend that he does care. He cares a great deal, but just not for the reason we might wish he did. Of course, he doesn’t care about who wins or the score just for the sake of triumph, rankings, or to make the fans happy. But because God is big enough, encompassing enough, and pervasively omnipresent, he absolutely does care about what I’ll call the ripple effect of every single little detail in our lives. In Proverbs 16:9, it says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
For example, at the surface level, it may not have mattered whether or not the Eagles won the Super Bowl. But because God is omniscient and knows the future of every player, he can see the impact of that win on Nick Foles, the quarterback. He knows the cause and effect of that win in Nick’s life next year, in five years, and so on. If some ripple effect of that win could change Nick’s ability to turn even one person’s heart to Christ, then God might have allowed the win for that single reason. I’m not saying that’s why the Eagles won, of course, but God is capable of simultaneously orchestrating every step for every human being, and he takes a keen interest and involvement in our lives. (Yes, this level of thinking about God makes my brain hurt too!) Even more mind blowing, is that God is powerful enough to assess the ripple effects around every decision by every person to know exactly how we will impact each other now and forever in the future.
We should take both comfort and caution from these amazing characteristics about God. The comfort comes in knowing that everything that happens to you is within his view. He will use every situation and every detail in your life for his glory if you surrender your need for control and trust him to guide you. That’s why the Bible says in Romans 8:28 that, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This can be a hard verse to swallow when the thing that happens is terrible. But just like the score of the game, it isn’t the bad thing itself that is most important, it is the ripple effect of it and how God can use it to change your life or someone else’s life for his glory now or maybe even years from now.
The caution comes when we realize that every little thing we do should be honoring and glorifying to him. John Piper wrote a blog post entitled, “How to Drink Orange Juice to the Glory of God,” and he warns us that “Sin is not just a list of harmful things (killing, stealing, etc.). Sin is leaving God out of account in the ordinary affairs of your life. Sin is anything you do that you don't do for the glory of God.” Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Truly, the word “whatever” really does mean anything and everything.
So am I happy about the Eagles’ win? No way. But I know my God has a reason for it and I trust him to use this Patriots’ loss to bring about something for his glory at some point. The principle is true for everything from drinking orange juice to going to work every day. There can be glory for God in the details if we invite him into them. The right perspective changes everything and the right heart glorifies God in anything.
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Random musings, heartfelt confessions, and occasionally inspirational thoughts from a hungry soul in pursuit of the One who set the stars in place yet calls me by name.
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