Saturday, February 18, 2012
It was the beginning of eighth grade. It was a time full of promise and anticipation of a new school year in a new school. A classmate in gym class invited me to try out for the community league basketball team. I agreed and went to practice. Through the season I worked hard at having fun, and learning the fine points of the game.
Our team performed well enough through the season to earn a place in the final playoff game for the city championship. We faced a team that was known to be bigger, stronger, and faster than all the others. We played our hearts out and scored toe to toe with our opponents. In the final seconds of the game, I stood center court as my teammate Al threw the ball overhand all the way down court, over my head, to swish the basket. The buzzer sounded as the ball went through the net. The place went wild as we won the city championship with an exciting Hollywood movie ending.
Next I joined the high school football team in the midst of a long losing streak. I found that whether you win or lose the big game, playing the game, doing your best, and finishing the season is what real winning is all about.
We read in the Bible where the Apostle Paul wrote, “anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules” (II Timothy 2:5 NIV).
Playing the game well, as a well-lived life, brings a winning reward in itself. There is a saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” In today’s culture, that sentiment has seemingly become “old school” as winning at any cost including the cost of one’s integrity has become everything.
Again, let’s look at the Apostle Paul, whom we respect as one of the greatest Apostles and writer in the New Testament. We know that his was a life of “purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings” (II Timothy 3:10).
Yet when he was facing execution he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day” (II Timothy 4:7-8 KJV).
Most of us would consider a man facing execution a loser. But because of the life he led, fulfilling his calling from God, he was actually a winner! As we live our lives we may also experience hardships, trials, persecution, and loss. But if we will keep our hand in the hand of God and do our best to live according to His will, then we too are winners.
If we will take a moment each day, and just look around, we will see the glorious winning in everyday life. The winning is in the journey. The glory of everyday life holds for you the mystery of happiness and the victory of winning. As a believer of Jesus Christ, a crown of righteousness is laid up for you in heaven. Now that’s winning!