Wednesday, November 26, 2014

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. Thats the essence of it.” — Vince Lombardi

The famous coach of the Green Bay Packers (see above) is famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.”  I have heard that all my life, but the strange thing is that Vince Lombardi didn’t ever really say it.  What he said was, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”  Growing up in West Texas where high school football was king, and then with my brothers (and my wife’s) all going to the University of Texas at Austin, all I knew was the joy of winning football games, and to quote ABC sports, “The agony of defeat.”  It is a skewed way to look at life and certainly not the way Jesus would have viewed it.  I cannot say that the two recent wins by Arkansas over LSU and Ole Miss didn’t make me very happy.  I sit at my computer late at night and follow the games on the internet (I don’t get to see them) as the game’s statistics show up on the screen.  However, I have learned over the years that whether or not my favorite team wins or loses has no effect whatsoever on my life.  I have been an avid fan of Formula One since I was a teenager.  I do get to see all the F1 races here and have been rooting for Lewis Hamilton all year.  The picture to the right is of Lewis winning the last race at Abu Dhabi last Sunday night and winning the world driver’s championship in the process.  He won eleven out of nineteen races, but he didn’t finish at all in three of them and came in second several times.  But the real reason that I so admire him is that in two races he started dead last with twenty-two cars in front of him, and he managed to find a way to work his way up to third place and a spot on the podium.  That’s what Vince Lombardi is talking about in the quote above.  Life knocks us to our knees on many occasions, but being on your knees is a good time to talk to God.  You all know someone who was knocked down but didn’t give up or give in.  Some of the most courageous people I have ever known were suffering from terminal diseases but made their lives into something truly inspiring.  An aspiring and gifted young doctor dedicated the rest of his life to allow other doctors to experiment on him to help others.  There is a very long list of those who refused to succumb and fought not for themselves but for others.  A doctor who treated Ebola patients just died, but he said he would have done it again.  Five doctors (four men and a woman) from Tanzania have gone to West Africa to help knowing it was virtually a suicide mission.  Lewis Hamilton’s personal life may not be something to emulate, but he showed me that not only would he refuse to quit, he fought back ignoring his team’s instructions and triumphed in the end.  I can only hope that his season this year can be a metaphor for my own attempts to bring the light into this darkness that surrounds us.  I have been knocked down and other missionaries in the same position have gone home, but I have stayed.  I don’t have all the body parts I came with and have added nine very visible scars to a body that wasn’t anything to write home about it at its best.  In a couple of weeks, I will lay hands on three new bishops and consecrate them to the service of God and His church.  Without me, we would not have enough bishops to do the consecration.  I won’t be able to stay for the whole service, but I will do what God has asked of me.  We don’t have to have stadiums full of fans cheering for us to be victors—we just have to allow God to use our hands and our voices to bring His message of love, peace, and light to those who struggle in the darkness.  Offering yourself to God’s service is winning in the grandest way possible even if no one ever knows about it.  It is enough that God knows—and that you do.
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