When You Know How It Ends

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 finalscore1to 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.


Empty Promises

PromisesPromises_580x326I listened to the weather report this morning as the meteorologist predicted the change in our weather for the days ahead. When one of the news anchors teased about the accuracy of the report, the meteorologist responded with a humorous disclaimer by saying,”I just try not to be wrong every day.”

Her words brought a knowing smile as I thought back to the three days prior. We’re in a drought in Texas. It’s the worst drought in about 60 years. When the weather forecast calls for rain, we want that forecast to be accurate. We’re looking for a sure thing. And that was the forecast for last Friday, Saturday and Sunday – three days of rain. But Friday came and went with no rain. Saturday did the same. On Sunday, a few drops hit my windshield, but I could have counted them all on one hand. It was just another empty promise from those who are supposed to know something about our future weather. I know they can’t be totally accurate. But it’s disheartening to count on something you not only want, but something you really need, only to find it to be an empty promise.

As I smiled at the disclaimer from the meteorologist, I thought of how grateful I am that Jesus needs no such disclaimer. He said, “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” And, after His burial, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor (Jesus) said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure…”

But no disclaimer was necessary. There was no 70% chance or 90% chance. There was only the promise. “Bury Me, and in three days I will rise!” Death could not hold the author of life. And when we trust Him and rely, without question, on His promise of life, death will not hold us either. And we don’t even have to wait three days for our resurrection. To be absent from the body, Paul said, is to be present with the Lord. No empty promises and no disappointments.

As you celebrate Easter, thank the Lord Jesus for the fact that we can live in light of His sure promises. He offers no disclaimers and we experience no disappointments.