Saturday, July 18, 2015

Goal-line Stand

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may 
know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."

 -- Exodus 33:13 

Called the NFL's Greatest Ironman, Jim Marshall was a defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings from 1961-79 and played in 282 consecutive games. Marshall is also remembered for his invaluable role on Minnesota's fearsome Purple People Eaters defense and ranks second in the Vikings' record book with 127 sacks. What's more, the two-time Pro Bowler held a long-standing NFL record for career fumble recoveries--one of which is blamed to this day for keeping him out of his sport's Hall of Fame.

In an exciting match-up against the rival San Francisco 49ers, Marshall scooped
up the ball fumbled by running back Billy Kilmer and galloped 66 yards to the end zone. But inexplicably, he had turned the wrong way after grabbing the pigskin. Instead of scoring a brilliant defensive touchdown for the Vikings, Marshall actually handed an embarrassing 2-point safety to his opponents!

When it comes to navigating our life journeys, maybe we're all a bit like Jim Marshall was that day. Our sense of direction tends to malfunction, and we can easily lose sight of the goal line. For example, we're confused about which college to attend, which spouse to marry and which job to take. These are all issues that we shouldn't take lightly. And making poor choices can turn us in the wrong direction for years to come.

Discerning God's will can quickly place us back in bounds. But how do we do that? First, let's look at what NOT to do. The world tells us to follow our hearts and "be true to ourselves." But that's in direct opposition to biblical truth because we're first to be true to our Creator. "Who can understand the human heart?" we read in Jeremiah. "There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed."

Let's now look at Jesus' example as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion. Christ had to make the ultimate life-and-death decision. And he asked God if there might be some other way to achieve the eternal plan that had been set in motion at the foundation of the world. "Father, if it is possible, don't let this happen to me!" Jesus petitioned as he literally sweated blood. "Father, you can do anything. Don't make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want."

The clear lesson is that surrendering completely to God's will is our first step to knowing it. When we do, God's answer can be eye-opening. And we shouldn't be surprised if he responds through an opportunity or situation that has never before occurred to us. Our ways--God says--are not his ways. And his thoughts are not our own.

So what's our next play? Let's consider the words of Proverbs 19:21 to keep us focused on the goal:

"Many are the plans in a person's heart. But it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

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