Thoughts and Meditations from verses and stories through one guy's head and heart... Psalm 124:7
Friday, October 16, 2009
When I was a junior in high school, our football team was loaded with more talent than some schools see in a quarter century. Everyone knew we were destined to win state, simply because there was no one who could compete with our athletes. Four of the players on that team went on to play Division 1 college football, three of them in the SEC; and at least five other guys on that team played football at smaller colleges. We were a totally dominant team when it came to speed, skill and experience. Everyone expected us to go 15-0 with a perfect record and a state championship ring, but it didn’t happen. Right in the middle of the regular season we lost a nail-biter to a team that didn’t really beat us… it was poor officiating at its worst. This team wasn’t in our region, which means the game didn’t affect our playoff standings, but it was a loss, just the same.
After the game was over, we all just stood around in shock at what had just happened… we had been robbed of a victory we earned and everyone there knew it. Our head coach herded us quickly into the locker room to avoid anyone making a scene when the shock wore off. Ninety guys were huddled in that locker room in palpable silence waiting for our coach to make sense of it for us… I remember him pacing back and forth outside of the door. I could tell he didn’t know what to say. He was grasping for a way to handle this thing when all of a sudden it was handed to him.
A senior linebacker who never, ever played (even when we were destroying the opponent) spoke into the silence. “It’s okay guys, it’s not a region game, so it doesn’t really matter.” It was all the cue Coach Gaddis needed… he burst through the door into the locker room with fire in his eyes and asked, “Who said it!? Huh?! Who said it?!” Everyone on the team pointed at the unfortunate soul who had dared to find a silver lining and Coach Gaddis said, “Get out! Just get out…” He went on to say that he hated to lose more than anything, region game or not… that we had really won and that what had just happened wasn’t right. Look, everyone loves the silver lining, right? I mean, when things go really bad, we all love that person who can help us spin it… who can remind us of the good that’s bound to result, or the blessing in disguise. Of course, if the silver lining turns out to be more tarnish than luster, it doesn’t really help all that much.
On the other hand, what if the silver lining is more than just a lining? What if the blessing in disguise or the resulting good is so good, and so filled with redemptive power that it actually goes back in time and infuses everything with good, so that what we called ‘bad’ we now call wondrous… The other day I was reading Matthew 16 where Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” This was a shock for Jesus’ friends. I mean, they thought following Him was going to be about building the glorious kingdom of God, but Jesus makes it sound like suffering and death. But that’s not all He said. You see, right after that He said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Then I realized that Jesus never mentions His own impending death without talking about His resurrection. For those who seek to follow Christ, suffering, problems, trials, hardship and even death await, but He says that by laying down your life, you find real life. With Him, death never ends in death, but in resurrection and eternal victory. This isn’t just some silver lining, but the truth that is so deep and good that goes back through time and gives purpose and meaning to all the suffering and pain. He arose from the dead and He promises that no matter how bad or how hard it gets, my story will end (or actually, begin) with my own resurrection and victory!