Having a son that played Division One football, I can tell you that football is a rough sport. Once you get to a certain level, everyone is fast; everyone is strong and everyone can hit you hard! And the closer you get to the action, the more brutal it becomes. You see, football, unlike many other sports, offers serious physical consequences if you make a mistake. The threat of actual physical danger enhances the competition and don’t get it twisted, it is a serious competition! When the commentator says, “the quarterback is running for his life” he means it… So what do football and life have in common? Are there some parallels that we can learn from it? What is it about football that keeps us glued to the TV set? And best of all, what lessons are contained in a competitive, physical sport that apply to the great competition of life?
I think most of us are very interested in being happy, pursuing happiness and spending time perplexed about why we aren’t happy. And in our quest we continually search for principles and keys that we can discover and apply to make life better. Yet, sadly we lose sight of one great reality that surpasses all of the others, namely that we are a spiritual competition. Your life, my life, takes place amidst a spiritual competition. And whether we choose to compete or not, we are in it! For a football team to be successful, they have to study their opponents and discover their tendencies, their patterns, their methods of attack. They spend hours analyzing film looking for weaknesses and ways they might exploit those weaknesses. In short, they understand that they cannot be successful until they have gained a good grasp of what their opponent is trying to do to them and then planning in advance to thwart those efforts.
Life is like that, yet how many of us understand it and make intentional plans to overcome the challenges? Most people (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here) have been lulled to sleep with false beliefs that there is no such thing as evil or that evil only exists in our minds or that evil is something men came up with to explain things they don’t understand? Almost everyone is okay with speaking of God or of love or the universe, yet refuse to consider that evil exists in the world. Remember the movie quote, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Well, he does exist and what you don’t know (or refuse to know) does hurt you! Let’s say you get inspired by some book or a speaker and decide to make some positive changes in your life. Your excited about your possibilities and off you go to make a change. Then, the adversary (that does exist and has been responsible for the defeat you are experiencing) decides to come with an all out blitz and down you go, back to yesterday’s defeat! Yet, incredulously, instead of recognizing your opponent, you scratch your head, look to the heavens and ask God why you cannot get ahead! You have failed to plan for your opponent, or worse, refuse to recognize that you have even an opponent!
The spiritual competition of life is simply stated as two spiritual forces at work and allowed access into your life by what you believe. God is always at work to bring you the good you seek and the adversary is always at work to defeat you and bring you into bondage. The adversary’s three-fold ministry is to “steal” to “kill” and to “destroy.” He is at work to steal your happiness; steal your prosperity; steal your health. He does so by working over your mind, day by day, with wrong beliefs, wrong thinking and negative expectation. And he is damn good at it! So good that you won’t even recognize that he is doing it. You think it’s just life but it’s not life, it’s a lie he got you to believe. And thus believing you continue on in defeat. Can you imagine setting up your play on offense and then being surprised that your opponent also has a play designed to beat your play? He pretends to blitz, then drops back into coverage and intercepts your pass. Why me God? Ummm because you have an opponent?
We all have certain weaknesses, certain tendencies right? We have areas of our lives that aren’t so good and behind them false beliefs and ideas that aren’t so good. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we are going to find that happiness we are after. And they way we recognize is by taking the time to think about what we have been thinking about. What thoughts have already gone through your head today? “I’m so fat!” “I am undisciplined and lazy!” “I’m not smart enough!” “God is mad at me!” “Why did I drink so much!” “No-one respects me!” “I just can’t get ahead!” And on and on and on… Those thoughts, stealthily encouraged, are your opponent talking you out of the good God has planned for you in life!
So, my friends, whether you like it or not or believe it or not, life is a spiritual competition. Every moment of every day you are competing and you win or lose by where you let your mind go or better where you decide to take your mind (intentional living)! You have an opponent, a personal opponent, that is seeking to blast you as a defenseless receiver and he doesn’t care if he gets a penalty flag! (15 yard penalty, but you aint getting up!)
Now instead of spending another moment asking God – why????? – recognize and acknowledge that you have an enemy and that maybe, just maybe he is behind the defeat you are presently experiencing. Don’t be afraid, however, just decide to change your thinking! Change your mind, thought by thought and quit allowing negativity access to your head! You can do it folks…you have to!
There he goes, to the fifty, the forty, the thirty, the twenty, the ten, the five, touchdown!!! (Loud cheering!!!!!)
Just some good thoughts and go Cowboys!!!! ( 😉 )