I have no shame in admitting that I enjoy watching the Atlanta Braves play baseball on television. I’ve been doing it since I was ten years old, eagerly tuning in to watch Dale Murphy and company try their best to accomplish greatness at the old Atlanta Fulton county Stadium. My guess is that I will likely continue to be a fan for as long as the Braves remain in the ATL. This new round of players that are taking the field each night are having fun.
I enjoy baseball but you will not, however, find me hunkering down to watch golf. Or bowling. Or tennis. Maybe I’m in the minority but I’m not totally unmoved by soccer and, while I appreciate the success of Atlanta United, I just cannot endure the purgatory of the back and forth of a soccer match. Hashtag boring. Now, I will occasionally flip from the commercials interrupting the Braves game and, finding a tennis match on the screen, I will submit myself to 30 seconds of watching two athletes swat the yellow ball back and forth over the net. I have heard the announcers use the term unforced error more than once when a tennis player makes a mistake that costs him or her a point. Some time back I learned that an unforced error occurs when a mistake is made by the player and it is not due to his or her opponent’s skill or effort. It’s kind of sad but they use this quaint term, unforced error, to characterize the tennis player’s failure to do what he or she is trained, enabled and paid to do. I’d say it like this: You blew it, dude. Human beings with tact say unforced error instead. It makes no difference to me what we call it, but I want to magnify this rapidly vanishing practice of our having to own up to the fact that our mistakes belongs to us. We see this as healthy, honest accountability both in sports and in life. Yes, you and I need to admit it when we blow it. Then we need to get back in the game.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
What a powerful verse this is in our bibles. God says that each temptation that we face comes with a built in escape route provided by the Almighty Himself. This verse also teaches me that I’m not facing anything in the moment of my challenge that has not been faced by others before me. Going even further it teaches that God will not permit a truly impossible testing to ever find me. It can be painful, excruciating, suffocating, confusing and threatening, but it cannot be impossible to triumph within the test. Repeatedly we are reminded in Scripture that each trial, temptation and challenge is uniquely fashioned in such a way that provides opportunity for our victorious overcoming. If there is any sin, defeat or failure in my life…it’s an unforced error. It’s on me. Not the devil. Not my upbringing. Not my unjust culture. And, certainly, not God. It cannot be blamed on the skill, effort or intensity of what is opposing me. When I fail, the right thing to do is for me to own it, learn from it and humble myself to seek to gain understanding about how to overcome it if the same challenge ever enters my life again.
Nobody makes me lose my temper – I give it away. It is impossible for another to truly ruin my life – I would be assigning them too much power if I believed that. Unless I’m being held at gunpoint, nobody forces me to make foolish decisions – my intellect and will are mine to engage. Through years of counseling others, I’ve listened to people tell me why they cannot overcome, endure, prosper, gain victory, change, forgive and continue on. There is almost always someone else at the end of their pointing finger who is being identified as their reason for their error. I’m unsure that I have ever allowed that kind of excuse-crafting to go unchallenged, because I simply don’t believe that anyone in my life or yours is more powerful than the God who promises us “a way of escape.”
Is there anyone or anything opposing you in your life that has become bigger than your God? Is this a valid approach to your journey?
Let’s put on our big-boy pants and take ownership of our lives. You and I do not have enough days to justify why we might be coming up short of God’s desire for us. Are you challenged by foolish people and heavy circumstances at times? Yes, you and I both…alongside of every other human being who has ever lived. Are these provoking people and raw realities stronger than the God who extends precisely fashioned grace to you? No. It is unfortunate that we have been conditioned to believe that if a challenge cannot be easily met then it cannot be met at all. We sometimes lay down and die and the altar of convenience instead of owning the moment and embracing our accountability and persevering through the challenge. Truth be known, nobody makes you do anything. We are creatures of a thousand daily choices. Let’s not cop out and proclaim through our defeats that someone else in our lives is more powerful than the God who has pledged Himself to us. If there are errors...they are unforced.
There’s only one eternal throne above all, and it’s not occupied by the person you think has been hindering you. Prayerfully welcome the God of all grace to empower you in today’s challenges. He actually delights at leading us out from the dangers, toils and snares. He loves to overcome on behalf of the underdog. Complainers never become winners in life – unless, that is, they cease complaining and start taking ownership of their lives. The victim mentality is our new national anthem in America. It is always off-key. Do not sing it. Blamers and excusers live in perpetual stagnation. Do not be that person, my saved, beloved, Spirit-inhabited friends. Yes, you will be challenged, rerouted, pounced-upon and smothered during certain seasons of life. Quit awaiting the easy days to find you. When you drop the ball, look where you dropped it and pick it back up. God will not lead you into any circumstance that does not contain some form of treasure that is meant to enrich you. You may have to dig for it. Your hands will get dirty. Your nails might break. You might get bitten by a critter or two as you search through the yuck to find the yahoo. I am sending a signal your way today that is meant to awaken you, reorient your focus upon the smiling King who is ready to lead you into what He has for you today.
You won’t decline His offer.
Get. Back. In. The. Game.