Last Sunday I preached at the St. Mark United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa. Sam Hardy is the wonderful pastor there and he had invited me about a year ago to come and preach.
Preaching on January 16, 2011, was selected because it was the Sunday following the BCS Championship Football Game. Since Alabama had won the National Championship last year and was the pre-season favorite to win again, this date was selected in order to have a great celebration about victory in the Christian life, the church, etc. as well as a football victory.
Well, life doesn’t work out the way we plan it. Following South Carolina’s upset of Alabama, Sam called me and said that we would keep the same date but might have to have a different emphasis. When Alabama lost to LSU, he said that we would keep the same date but would definitely have a different emphasis.
I had a wonderful time with the people at St. Mark. It is a great church. I was glad that we were participating in something that was far more important than a football game – it dealt with the game of life and the role that the church can play in transforming the world. The victory in the Christian life and the church is not determined by a football team’s performance. We celebrated some real victories.
We all seem to think that we are pretty smart and can predict things for the future. Even God must get amused at what we tend to think will happen.
Even the experts and the pundits don’t know everything or get things right. This is especially true in sports.
My friend Dr. George Hunter from Asbury Theological Seminary kept a clipping from USA Today, the 2010 August issue. A guru for sports, a man named Danny Sheridan, gave the odds for teams winning the National Championship. Alabama, Ohio State, and Oklahoma had the best odds. Georgia was 45 to 1, Oregon was 50 to 1, and Auburn was 125 to 1. I don’t understand all those odds but they gave practically no chance to Oregon or Auburn winning. Doesn’t God have a sense of humor?
It also shows how foolish it is to bet on a football game.
Solomon reminds us that “We can gather our thoughts, but the LORD gives the right answer.” (Proverbs 16:1) “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord must direct his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)
The best devised plans we have can be totally reversed by God’s divine plan. I am also reminded that in Jeremiah 29:11 we read the following promise. “For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope..’”
The guaranteed winning plan is always is to seek and follow God’s plans.
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