I found myself at home alone last week, following a long day. Camille had left for a prayer time she shares each month with several pastors’ wives in our area and I decided to turn to ESPN for some time to relax. I was excited to find that, in anticipation of a new football season, they were replaying some of college’s best football games from across the years. And the game that had just begun was the 2013 “Iron Bowl” between Auburn University and the University of Alabama. As an intensely loyal Auburn guy (stay with me, Alabama fans), I was excited to be able to watch this game again. The rivalry between those two programs is arguably the most intense in college football. And the 2013 game was a vivid display of that intensity and the outcome would hold huge ramifications for a possible conference and national championship finish.
The game went back and forth. It was a nail-biter from start to finish. And, in the end, Auburn won the game on the return of an attempted field goal by Alabama with one second left in the game. Auburn returned the missed attempt 110 yards for the winning touchdown. An unimaginable finish.
But my purpose is not to re-live the game but to point to my experience as I watched it again more than 8 months later. When I watched that game as it was played in November of last year, I was filled with anxiety from the kickoff to the final play with no time left on the clock. There was no point in the entire game where either team or their fans could relax, confident of the win. But I watched with confidence last week. I remembered how my stomach was in knots as I had watched last year. But no such worry this time. It was an intense game. An exciting game. But I watched without the slightest tinge of anxiety because I knew how it would end. The outcome was determined and I could rest in that knowledge.
When I look at our world today, there has not been in my lifetime as much unrest and chaos as we see around us. From Hamas and Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, the Ebola crisis in Africa and to Ferguson, Missouri, our world is experiencing chaos. And those events will create fear and anxiety unless we know the outcome.
“… The Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. … I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:4;13)
If our security is in this world we will live in fear. But if our hope is in God and His promises, we are encouraged as we wait patiently for the outcome. We know the final score and the win is certain.