Read 1 Timothy 2:1-6; Luke 18:1-8; Romans 8:18
What an interesting week it has been in the National Football League.
First on Sunday, Vontae Davis, Defensive Back for the Buffalo Bills quit at halftime.
Second, the Cleveland Browns who hadn't won a game since Christmas Eve of 2016 won on Thursday night, beating the New York Jets. What a way to "kick off" week three of the 2018 season. There has been a great deal of discussion on the sports channels concerning both incidents, and though I have never played competitive sports, I'd like to share a few thoughts of my own, lessons for those of us who belong to Jesus, gleaned from the NFL.
Concerning Vontae Davis:
I was interested to hear what former NFL players were saying concerning his quitting, prior to the end of Sunday's game. Both Shannon Sharpe and Chris Carter had similar thoughts. It would have been better if Mr. Davis had played the entire game, or at least asked to sit the rest of the game out on the sidelines. Both former players were careful to say that they could not know what Davis was going through. Was there an inability to continue on physically, or was his heart no longer in the game? Whatever the reason, they were certain that his abrupt departure sent a message that wasn't a good one to the players who continued to play out the entire game, men who were his teammates and are often referred to as brothers. At first as I thought of this unusual happening, I wondered why a player would leave his team at such an inopportune time? However, it wasn't long before I realized how easily I can quit too early, leaving an endeavor much more life changing than an NFL game. May I explain?
How easy it is to stop praying for in an individual or a difficult situation when it seems that nothing is changing, as a result of my prayers. Though, ‘it is only halftime’, and the Lord is still on the throne, I often forget His unlimited power, Matthew 19:26. Jesus knew that we might cease prayer too early; so, He gave us the parable in Luke 18:1-8 to remind us of the character of God. How different the Father is than the unfeeling, disinterested and uncaring judge. What a wicked judge the Master speaks of, one who only relented and did what was right because the widow's requests finally wearied him. How different God is, Exodus 3:1-9.
Isn't it comforting that Jesus knew that we could easily succumb to the weariness of the circumstances all around us and be tempted to stop crying out to the Lord? His reminder to pray is loving encouragement, a command to keep coming before His throne, Hebrews 4:14-16. In 1 Timothy 2:1-6, we are reminded of the scope of prayer. All people. What a precious and important work. We are to pray for those with great influence in the world and those who the world might consider of little value. Each one will spend eternity either in heaven or hell, and there is only one Mediator, and He desires that each person, no matter his earthly status, be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4-6. With the Holy Spirit's enabling, may we never stop praying for those the Lord puts on our hearts and in our paths. It's always too early to stop doing this good work.
In November 1848, George Mueller began to pray for five specific individuals to be saved. After 18 months, the first received the Lord's gracious offer of new life. It took five years for the second conversion and six more for the third. Mr. Mueller prayed every day for 52 years for these who were precious to him, and he died in faith, believing that the remaining two men, sons of a childhood friend, would also be saved. Within months of his funeral, that which Mr. Mueller prayed for, occurred. What a picture of faithful perseverance in prayer.
Concerning the Cleveland Browns:
My husband and I watched that game. At first, it appeared that it would be business as usual for the long-suffering Browns and their fans. However, when the starting quarterback was injured, the much-lauded Baker Mayfield replaced him. And, in the end, you would have thought it was Christmas and the Fourth of July all rolled up together in Cleveland. The joy of that single victory seemed to wash away the 635 days of waiting for that elusive win. What fun for those who were there and those fans who watched from other places.
In Romans 8:18, we are reminded that great joy is in store for us. I don't say this to in any way mean that what we sometimes experience in the here and now is not painful and heart rending. Yet, as we live, strengthened by God's grace, the Lord will complete the good work He has started in us, Philippians 1:6. We will not regret anything we did to honor Him or our faithfulness in prayer, even when it proved to be difficult or seemed fruitless at the time. Oh, the joy of hearing Him say "well done good and faithful servant", and that joy will be ours.