Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Devotion for today: Believe in a second chance

Life can only be understood by looking backward, but it must be lived by looking forward. (God’s Little Devotional Book)

Scripture for meditation: Luke 9:62
And Jesus said to him, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Scripture for reflection: John 8:7-11
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Never give up: On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played the University of California in the Rose Bowl. In the first half, Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for California, but he became confused about direction and ran the wrong way. One of his teammates tackled him just yards before he scored for the opposing team. When California tried to punt, Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, which became the winning margin.
During halftime, the Cal players sat quietly, waiting to hear what the coach had to say. He was uncharacteristically quiet. Riegles put his blanket around his shoulders, stayed in a corner, put his face in his hands, and cried like a baby. Three minutes before playing time, Coach Price looked at the team and said simply, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.”
The players filed onto the field, but Riegels did not budge. “Roy, didn’t you hear me?” the coach asked.
Riegels responded, “I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.” Coach Price put his hand on Roy’s shoulder and said, “Roy, get up and go on back; the game is only half over.” Tech men to this day will tell you they have never seen a man play football as Roy Riegels played that second half. (God’s Little Devotional Book, Honor Publishing, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1995)

Prayer: Psalm 119:49-52
Remember your word to your servant since you have given me hope. My comfort in my affliction is that your promise gives me life. Though the proud scoff bitterly at me, I turn not away from your law. I remember your ordinances of old, O Lord, and I am comforted.
My thoughts: Like many people, I enjoy watching a variety of sports. Although the technicalities of the games usually escape me, the power behind the desire to win never ceases to amaze me. People play injured, sick, and in sadness; they fight for a goal or a run or a basket as if their lives depended on it. Sometimes, because they are in the public eye, they are humiliated in their mistakes. Winning must still trump that humiliation. That is the point in the above story. Our man Roy wanted to quit and cry. His coach wouldn’t let him. Sometimes we just want to quit. The effort to live a good and holy life in today’s world may seem to be a bigger challenge than we care to face. The voice in our ear tells us to give up; the world wins; why be humiliated any longer for standing up for unpopular beliefs, for looking like a failure when judged by the world’s standards? If we work for the Lord, and we make some big mistakes, why not just quit? Maybe we were never “good enough” anyway. Maybe we just wanted to believe God could use us to advance His kingdom on earth. Well, if any of those thoughts try to take hold of your heart and mind, look to Roy and his coach. Roy would have loved to stay off the field that day. His coach gave him a second chance, and Roy played the game of his life. The prostitute in our Bible passage was humiliated and scorned by others for her mistakes, yet Jesus gives her another chance. I am fairly certain Coach Price told Roy, as Jesus told the prostitute, “Just don’t do it again.” It is good to remember that quitting is never an option in the game of life. We play to win. Our coach, Jesus Christ, will give us all the strength and grace necessary to cross the finish line and join Him in paradise. We just have to remember to ask for it. We also must remember to be the good coach ourselves and always give our fellow man another chance. How we treat others must always reflect how God treats us.

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