Never Out of the Game
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 NASB)
In 1993, the Buffalo Bills played the Houston Oilers in the wildcard game of the American Football Conference playoffs. Minutes into the third quarter, the Bills were down 35 to 3. Slowly the seats cleared in Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, as disappointed Bills fans had given up and were heading home. Next, the unlikeliest of events occurred. In less than a quarter of gameplay, the Bills scored four straight touchdowns. In what remains the greatest comeback in NFL history, the Bills ended up winning in overtime, 41 to 38. Hearing of the Bills mounting comeback over the radio, hundreds of fans who had earlier left the game decided to return, climbing the stadium fences in time to see the closing minutes.
The Bills never gave up. A chief reason, for what has gone down in football legend as “The Comeback,” was the play of backup quarterback Frank Reich who threw for four touchdowns. Although a lesser-known fact, Reich also holds the record for the greatest comeback in college football. In 1984, he overcame a 31-point deficit in a win for the Maryland Terrapins.
Growing up a Bills fan, I’ll never forget “The Comeback.” Today, it’s not only football fans who are inspired by this iconic 1993 game. Hailed by some as the “comeback king” of football, Frank Reich is a dedicated believer and motivational speaker. He uses the legacy of his giant sports comebacks as keynotes in his speeches, giving God credit for his victories.
God has used the story of Reich’s come from behind wins on the playing field to inspire others to have faith and not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16). Reich’s life and message taps into a profound truth lying at the heart of the Christian faith—with God on our side, we’re never out of the game.
Even though sometimes it seems we’re slipping or losing ground, with Jesus, defeat is never the end of the story. Despite our disappointments in life—be it a bad half of play in a sporting game or a missed opportunity in our home life, church, or the workplace—we needn’t lose hope. In fact, we have every reason to press forward and mount our own comeback when it seems everything is at a loss. When we glance at the scoreboard of life and think the game is over—it isn’t. The tomb is empty. He has risen. The only one defeated in this game is death. The eyes of faith always look ahead to a comeback win, as the love of Jesus overcomes every deficit.
Lord, help us to look ahead to what’s in store for us this day—new opportunity and new hope. You never gave up on us, yet you gave unto us your only Son.
Seeing God’s Daily Provision in Nature
“Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hvers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions.” Deuteronomy 32:11 (NLT)
I had barely turned out of the driveway when an eagle rose straight up from the ditch on my passenger side. For a few slow-motion seconds, I watched in awe as its powerful wings almost brushed my car while they flapped upward.
In that amazing nature sighting, I sensed God shouting to me: “I’ve got you, girl!”
He knew I had been shaken to the core, and I believe He sent an eagle to encourage me and remind me that He is in control. He gave me hidden manna, bread from heaven, on a country road that day just as He provided for His people in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:35)
“Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions.” (Deuteronomy 32:11)
In the awful muck of my problems, I would have liked nothing more than for God to take me up and literally carry me safely to a faraway place. Yet the encouragement from seeing God’s power, might and strength displayed in that eagle spiritually uplifted me for days.
Though God didn’t literally lift the Israelites out of their problems in the wilderness, He lovingly cared for them and protected them with His mighty strength. He gave them the picture of a mother eagle tenderly caring for her chicks, hovering over them and carrying them to safety.
The Bible is full of nature metaphors like this one that help us understand different aspects of God’s character. When we look at nature to find clues about God, He often rewards our searches with inspiring images.
When you have relationship struggles, parenting problems, work stress or hurt feelings, try looking out your window or stepping out your door. Ask God to show you something in nature to encourage you, and study whatever you find for signs of His character. I am certain God will inspire you, give you comfort and point you back to Him.
Today, the Lord may send you a bald eagle of encouragement. Or He may whisper His care for you through the beauty of a leaf, flower, rock or sunset.
Though He may not lift us out of our problems, God is always hovering over us with love and protection. When we seek out His character in nature, we’ll feel uplifted.
Let us pray
By: Charles Spurgeon
“But it is good for me to draw near to God.” Psalm 73:28
Suggested Further Reading: James 4:1-8
Draw near to God with living, loving prayer; present the promise, and you shall obtain the fulfilment. Many things I might say of prayer; our old divines are full of high praise concerning it. The early fathers speak of it as if they were writing sonnets. Chrysostom preached of it as if he saw it incarnate in some heavenly form. And the choicest metaphors were gathered together to describe in rapturous phrase the power, nay, the omnipotence of prayer. Would to God we loved prayer as our fathers did of old. It is said of James the Less, that he was so much in prayer that his knees had become hard like those of a camel. It was doubtless but a legend, but legends are often based on truths. And certain it is that Hugh Latimer, that blessed saint and martyr of our God, was accustomed to pray so earnestly in his old age, when he was in his cell, that he would often pray until he had no strength left to rise, and the prison attendants had need to lift him from his knees. Where are the men like these? Oh angel of the covenant, where can you find them? When the Son of Man comes shall he find prayer on the earth? Ours are not worthy of the name of supplication. Oh that we had learned that sacred art, that would draw near to God, and plead his promise. Cowper has put several things together in one hymn.
Prayer clears the sky; “Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw.”
Prayer is a heaven-climber; “Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw.”
Prayer makes even Satan quake; “For Satan trembles when he sees,
The weakest saint upon his knees.”
For meditation: Do you regard your prayer-life as a dead, boring routine? May God teach us to draw near to him and enjoy the relationship in a living and meaningful way (Luke 11:1-4).
Proverbs 3:5-7 5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
One of our greatest temptations is to trust our self. We say, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” We look to our own experiences, our own insights, our own intellect, when it is nothing compared to the infinite wisdom of God. Is it because we don’t think God will answer us? Or perhaps we think He will not answer in a way that will please us. Why can’t we trust Him to answer us in a way that is ultimately best for us? That is to place trust in His nature, in His heart. If I refuse to do that, I must ask myself why. Either I do not believe He is who the Word declares Him to be, or I prefer to make my own decisions and be my own lord. If I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I should trust Him with all my heart as well.
The LORD intricately plans all your ways. Do you see His hand? Can you see the abounding mercy? We should acknowledge His grace in our lives, and let Him reveal to us what He is doing. When we look to His direction, the crooked paths become straight. Life becomes a wonderful interaction with our Maker. He touches the world through us, and in the process, transforms our lives by increasing our trust in Him.
To be wise in our own eyes is to deceive ourselves. It is a refusal to acknowledge our frequent mistakes and our real condition. We desperately need the LORD for guidance and discernment. If we think we can do it on our own, we have no fear of a just God, who, like a father, will discipline us.
Consider: Shun evil by following His directions. Let each day be filled with the wonder of His presence guiding you, so that His ways become your ways.