Have you filled out your March Madness, college hoops, NCAA tourney brackets? If you are into that sort of thing, I think you better hurry up, because its getting started. Crazy thing that whole March Madness. I was reading an article recently by a sportswriter who believes that in order to make people like me, football guy, pro-basketball (THUNDER UP) watcher, tune into the Madness in March the NCAA needed something. They did not need to add more teams, they just needed one team. It is the team that comes from nowhere to win in all. That’s what they need. They call this a Cinderella team. The concept is that if they could get Cinderella to go dancing in a place she does not belong, then fans who do not care would tune in. The problem was, can a team do it?
Wow. Let’s celebrate Cinderella. Average team. Average win-loss. Average players. They have them. But, they need to just win one game. Just one.
I am glad our discipleship is intended to be different.
“As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:36-37 ESV)
Here’s the problem. You are not supposed to be winning one game, or be an average player. Since when is discipleship, and especially the grace of God equal in measure to life you choose? What I mean by that is where did we get the idea or sin, our poor decisions, or even or stress greater than the power of God? It is not supposed to be like this. You are not supposed to be average. I know many of you may feel that way today. You feel average because of your job, family, income, lack of prayer life, stress, workload, or sin. Some of you feel that way because of ALL of that stuff (and if you do, that’s a lot of stuff). Conquering, hardly.
I am not talking about suffering. Notice I do not talk about heart disease, cancer, persecution, etc. All of the things mentioned previously are issues because they are a direct result of our inability to grant God control over our lives and our subsequent decisions, after living wrongly, to be miserable people. And, do not email me and tell me this is not you. I know your spouses. They disagree. (Okay, maybe I am only slightly kidding there. Most of you pray for Dana everyday and she really appreciates that.)
The issue at hand is that we need to stop thinking about life in Christ as a normal thing. It is not. It is so much more than that. Paul wrote that verse while sitting in prison. He did not care about his surroundings because they are not important compared to God’s grace. All of us would agree Paul is not average. Most of us have never spent a minute in a jail cell. Yet, so many people walk around being average and the only thing they do more than average is be miserable and make others feel the same way. Thus, our issues are not because of our surroundings, its because of what’s going on in us. IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY!
God’s grace in power of the Holy Spirit is intended to be EMPOWERING. The problem is not whether or not GOD can do this; the question is not whether or not YOU can do it; the issue is whether or not you WANT to. Someone might say, “Of course I want to. I just don’t know how.” How? Easy, grind. Yep. Grind. That’s your word for today. Grind. Informally it means, “to work or study laboriously.” Read the text below. Process it slowly. Think about how Jesus had to do something, wanted to do something, but its was hard. He did it anyway. Grind.
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow.” (Luke 22:39-45 ESV)
You read that right. Jesus prayed, an angel came, strengthened Jesus, and was even more earnest. Grind. Just when you thought your life was at the bottom of some barrel lousy and you have way too much on your platter think about the Son of God being more earnest in prayer AFTER an angel comes to strengthen him. He did not go to a cross on a fleeting moment. Jesus knew what he was doing, knew where he was going, and it was not easy. He did it anyway. WHY?
We do it because we love. Love is not supposed to be lived today and then maybe sometime in the future. That would be an average Cinderella-like discipleship. Love is every day grinding it out because you are sometimes unlovable, I am most of the time unlovable, and the people not reading this are all the time unlovable. You love today but not tomorrow, you miss Jesus on the deck, sweating blood, emptied out, and facing death. He did it because of love. He ground through all your mess with a sacrifice that is new every day. A sacrifice that conquers every day with a love which makes you more than you have ever been. Today, tomorrow, forever.