Finding God's Winning Spirit

The Game of Life

October 20, 2014 | Greg Smith | Devotional


I remember back in high school one day at football practice our coach said, "Boys football is the game of life". I remember thinking then, like many of my teammates, "what a bunch of hooey". Some 40 years later I find myself not only agreeing with him but taking it one step further and saying, “Sports in general, is the game of eternal life". This is why I am infatuated (some say obsessed) with Sports Theology and the empirical truths that lie in both. Here is what I mean.

Any coach worth his salt knows that to win as an individual or a team there needs be a plan, each individual needs to have a sense of purpose in that plan and significant time needs to be spent in preparation to maximize performance.  I know what you're thinking, “no da” Greg how simple is that? Well it is very simple when it is applied to sports; my question is why don't we apply the same process to our Christian life? It is really the same concept.

God has a plan (it is called providence). God's plan or His will if you please, is very clear as Jesus tells us, “For this is the will (plan) of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:40). Just like in athletics, God's plan cannot take place without relying on his players.

God has a plan, we are active in it and he is active in our part of it – we have a purpose. It is imperative that for a game plan to be successful each player must believe in and know his or her role in that plan. The same is true in our Christian life.  God has specifically made us unique as to race, stature, personality and even athletic ability. If God was so intentional about our individual qualities does it not follow that he would have a purpose for this creation? We all have a specific and unique purpose in God's plan.

Michael Redd, of the Milwaukee Bucks, understands this plan as he once said, "I think my purpose, other than shooting a basketball, was the chance to tell others about Christ. It is a privilege to share the gospel". It is in Ephesians 2:10 that we read, "For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them". In plain language – we matter and God is counting on us.

To win is important but the will to prepare is vital.  Roger Staubach once said, "Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” For us to perform at the highest level we need to practice i.e. prepare. Preparation not only trains the body, it also trains the mind. Practice not only builds muscle memory it also provides the athlete with the opportunity to grow in his or her confidence.

This is a no-brainer when it comes to sports but once again we can miss the connection when it comes to our spiritual life. As I have said in previous blogs if we are going to rely on our Christian faith to get us through then we need to have spent some time in God's Word; if we expect Christ to come to our aid we need to have spent some time nurturing that relationship. Confidence comes from relying on what we have practiced and knowing that it works – practice makes perfect.

The athletic analogy ends with maximized performance. Having a plan, each participant knowing his or her purpose or part in that plan, and the preparation of the two, enhances performance. As we have said when it comes to sports it is a simple, tried and true process for victory.

For us to perform at the highest level spiritually the process is much the same. We must know God's plan and our part in it, we must practice those characteristics and principles put forth in God's Word and we must identify ourselves with him. God is a winner. God wants us to win; He wants us to defeat our pride, fear and greed. The opponent He wants us to completely destroy is the "old self".

Although the athletic analogy ends here (but not the alliteration) there is one more element that emerges in our Christian faith.  This spiritual process ends with perspective.  The ability to see things from God's perspective allows us not only to live above the distractions of this world; it allows us to see past the moment. It allows us to live life knowing that, "this too shall pass". We are transformed by faith to be confident and expect great things from God and ourselves – That my brothers and sisters is God’s Winning Spirit.

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