Having played High School hockey one season, I learned that sudden death in overtime was exactly what it sounded like. As the clock was reset to 5 minutes, the pressure to out-perform and defeat the competition was the ultimate goal… or was the ultimate “goal”, the ultimate way to defeat… oh bother… it was one or the other I am sure. So out ran the seconds, until one or the other of the teams got the puck tucked into the crease and into the net; after much boarding, checking, tripping and all-out war on the ice. It usually came with lots of name-calling; a verbal punishment, thought to distract the competition long enough to steal the prize, and outright fouls to gain a few seconds away from the pressure, giving time to take those few extra breaths to suck in just a bit more air. And last but not least… let’s pull the goalie! Wow… What a game! But, somebody had to win… right? I never could positively gauge who the best team was… now who put forth the best effort that was different! It seems that since teams are made up of members, each had to be the best every day and that was not always easy. There were injuries, personal problems and distractions outside the game that they carried onto the ice, and of course team dynamics… ah… nothing worse than jealousy, and resentment to knock the stuffing out of an otherwise good line.
So it is in life. It seems, as time creeps on, that there may be more indications that we may go into overtime after all. I hear lots of people arguing that the end is near and since there hasn't been anyone who has got it right thus far, I am thinking that God’s plan of “sudden death overtime” is more to the mark. We are challenged on every side to do what is right. The battle for truth is like the battle for right… what is truth and who is right? Well… now that is the ultimate set of questions! Eugene Peterson once told me that it is simply a matter of decision making for people. It is that simple… we decide for ourselves what shall be the truth we adhere to, and that is what makes what is being done, right. When we choose the Christian faith, our route in life becomes our “way of life”, not just a guarantee to eternal bliss. The battles are still going on all around us, confronting us on every side. Don’t agree? Think back over the past few days. How many times have you been disappointed, wanted to shout in anger or perhaps just wanted to give up in defeat? There are lots of emotions that I could name, but each carries with it the challenge to stay on the path we have chosen to take, no matter how hard and how rough that path may be moment by moment.
The Bible says that the war is not over yet and I lean toward that thought. Only God can win this one. Having tripped and fallen more than once in life, I know that I am neither strong enough nor smart enough to win this for me. Without Him and the blessing of the “Christ” this ol’ tent of flesh would just be another casualty of the war. So I cling to the “Old Rugged Cross”, so to speak. What Christ accomplished there for me is more than I could ever dream of and it wasn't just for me. Oh, I know… it is up to each to make up his or her own mind for themselves. That’s freedom right?
So what is God doing? He is giving us the prescribed periods, set forth in this life event, to make the right moves, follow the proper strategy and make every attempt to attain the “proper” goals. Then, when there seems to be no end in sight He will call “A Sudden Death Overtime”. Not a good analogy? Well, I work with the simple theory… one of those “Kiss” principles… keep it simple stupid! In that time the true winner will be Christ and He will give those, who may still be doubters, an opportunity to repent, Those who don’t will just be on another defeated team. Who wouldn't want to be on the team who has the ultimate player, the foremost athlete, the strongest, yet most selfless team-member, who has shown his ability to win, even when it looks like defeat is imminent? That sudden death overtime can be scary, but it is like being afraid of the dark. If we are not prepared for the darkness to fall, by knowing that there is nothing to fear, we will certainly feel a stressful discomfort as it nears.
I’ve been playing on Christ’s team for a long time. I have not always been the best team member and have carried my personal trials on and off the ice more than once and have even been sidelined with injuries caused by my own folly. To say that I don’t deserve to be on the team would be correct, but for one thing… no one is. That is the beauty of God’s grace. As much as I fall down, He expects me to get up and go at it again, a little humbler than before maybe, but equipped with the same armour as everyone else. That is if I do my part and follow the path, the plan or the strategy, that leads to the ultimate goal. It takes teamwork to. There is no place here for one-man teams in this game. There is especially no place for team members to outthink the Coach. And when it comes time to get on with the game, the only thing on our minds should be the strategy set out for us… this is not the time to fear the outcome or second guess Him who has knowledge of every move the enemy will make. If I “FEAR” the overtime game I am depending on what I can do, not on what God has already done. After all what is there that God can’t do?
The thing that alarms me most, even for our Christian family, is that even though there may be a struggle with some about both God’s omnipotence and His omniscience… whether we like it or not we serve a Sovereign God. If you get stuck on those big words take time to Google them… it will do your soul good! This weekend we have celebrated one of the great Seasons of the Christian calendar year. God, incarnate with us, showed His love by dying for us, paying the price for sin past present and future, for those who will love and serve Him (See John 3:16) and then gave us the hope of eternal life with him as he was resurrected from the grave. Some will struggle with walking out that far into their belief system today and in future. For me it is a matter of course, a set my choice patterns along my path in a “living” faith. Living on the edge may be tenuous at times, but I have always been a bit of a radical from the old world’s point of view… or so my father always said! LOL… It is always just in how you define the view from there!