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Play (and Pray) Through It

It was week seven of our ten game season. We were playing a team where it was almost certain the winner would have the home field advantage in the playoffs. Both teams had one loss and for us the game was played over three hours from home. Long road games are always difficult because so few fans are able to travel giving the home team even a greater advantage.

At the end of the second quarter, our star running back dislocated his finger on the second to last play before halftime. It was a gruesome dislocation as his thumb was over 90 degrees from where it was supposed to have been. We did our best to ice his finger at halftime, but it was swelling fast. We took time to pray over the situation as well and sent him out to start the second half.

He carried the ball 3 times in the first half for 115 yards and 2 TDs. His performance had been the key to our being tied at halftime. On his first carry in the second half, he pitched the ball and proceeded to fumble it (lucky we recovered it). On the next play, he proceeded to lose yardage for the first time all game because of a problem securing the ball.

I remember an assistant coach suggesting that I pull him from the game and put in our very capable, albeit inexperienced, backup running back. I never even considered it. I had faith in his abilities and more importantly, so did his teammates. There have been many times as a coach I would suggest a play or send in a player which the team on the field rejected. They did so because they did not have faith in either the play or the player.

We went on to win the crucial game. Our banged up running back rushed for 211 yards in the second half and scored 5 TDs! Both of these were personal bests. He had risen to the occasion and I believe he was responding not to the pain or the moment but instead to the confidence everyone else had in him. He and his teammates refused to let the circumstances of his injury deviate from their belief in what they could accomplish together.

No matter how much you practice, no matter the injuries, the team must have a belief in the goals and their teammates in achieving the goals. Likewise, no matter how much doctrine you know or church you attend God will not move with you through a difficult situation if you don't have faith. Faith is not a feeling, it is an action. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth. One of my favorite pastors, Tony Evans, explains it best when he says:

Faith is acting like it is so, even when its not so, in order that it might be so, simply because God said so.

pastor Tony evans

Faith precedes sight. Once you put sight in front of faith you have negated faith. The Gospel is not like the state of Missouri where their slogan is "Show Me". Throughout the bible we are called to trust in the Lord. One of the better stories in the bible to exemplify faith is the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

Martha and Mary had prayed for Jesus to come and save Lazarus because he was deathly ill. Jesus had delayed coming for two days and he had done so being only two miles away! Despite Lazrus dying, Martha had expressed a faith in Jesus when she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” John 11:21 Her faith was such that she knew Christ could overcome her situation regardless of the natural state of affairs.

Like Martha, we too pray for assistance. Likewise, the solutions are sometimes not immediate. God may be only two miles away and still not come. This does not mean he has not heard. God has his timetable and, just like with Lazarus, He may be using our situation to bring glory to Him. We have to have faith!

We need to practice our faith just as we practice for a game. God calls us to congregate, fellowship and pray. Through these actions we build a relationship with God and others which will help us to weather the storms of life. Then, when the enemy attacks we can trust in that which is not seen to deliver us and to work for God's glory and not our own.


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