Ups And Downs

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Life has its ups and downs. At some points in life we are on the mountaintop – sometimes we are walking through the valley. Where we are in life at this moment is important – but it is not as important as our attitude and actions toward our situation.

Yesterday, June 10, I was in the waiting room at my dentist’s office and picked up the newspaper and saw numerous illustrations of this reality.

In sports we see it often. Last Sunday night Ray Allen, with the Boston Celtics, scored eight 3-pointers. Nobody in basketball history had done that in a playoff game. He made the history books. He was on top of the world.

Then on Tuesday night in the playoff game he went 0 for 13. He again made the history books – nobody had ever gone 0 for 13. He went from the mountaintop to the valley.

Jeremiah Masoli is the great quarterback for Oregon. He started out as fifth string quarterback, but worked up to the starting position. He had a wonderful season last year leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl. Already this year was talk about Heisman trophy possibilities. This past week he was dismissed from the team for “failure to adhere to obligations” outlined by Coach Chip Kelly. He is no longer on the team.

The University of Southern California had a great run in college football during the mid years of this decade. They were National Champions in 2004. On Thursday they received notice that they had violated NCAA standards and all those wins were being vacated. They went from 13-0 to 0-13. They lost the National Championship.

You see it in business. The headlines of the paper indicated that the euro had been extremely strong a couple of years ago. I remember paying a lot more money when we attended the Wimbledon tennis tournament in England. That has drastically changed today as the value of the euro has declined.

One company that will benefit greatly from this change is the giant steel company ThyssenKrupp. They moved to Alabama a few years ago at a great financial advantage when our dollar was undervalued and the euro was strong. Now they are producing products that are being sold in the U. S. for a much higher profit in U.S. dollars than could be measured in euros.

BP Oil was a huge successful oil company a few months ago. Now they are in the news everyday concerning the oil being released into the Gulf of Mexico. Articles on the business page discussed whether or not they would be able to stay in business.

It happens in politics. Vic Rawl ran in the primary for U.S. Senate in South Carolina. He was a shoo-in. He had an opponent, but nobody had ever heard of the opponent. Vic Rawl was already planning his fundraisers for the fall general election.

Guess what – the unknown won! He is Alvin Greene, 32-years-old. He didn’t raise any money and didn’t have a website. The people of South Carolina didn’t know it but he had been arrested not long ago and is facing charges. But he won the primary for the Democrats.

Political analysts are trying to explain how he won. Was Rawl a victim of the anti-incumbent sentiment that swept the state’s primaries? Did Greene capitalize on some kind of movement among the unemployed? Was it the simple fact that his name was listed before Rawl’s on the alphabetized ballot? Rawl said, “It’s an absolute surprise. I can’t make any comments, because I don’t know what’s going on.”

Things can turn quickly. What can we learn from this?

When we are on the top of the world we need to have the spirit of humility and give thanks to God for our blessings. We need to remember and to continue practicing the things that helped us get to that position. A proud, haughty, arrogant spirit can cause us to fall quickly. Placing our trust in our own abilities can precipitate a quick trip downward. Not taking challenges seriously can have a devastating effect.

Remember what the Bible says:

     Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin. Proverbs 21:4

     O land of pride, you will stumble and fall, and no one will raise you up. Jeremiah 50:32

     He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God sets himself against the proud, but he    shows favor to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. James 4: 6, 7

     Don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. Romans 11:20

     And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. I Peter 5:5, 6

Conversely, there was a great article about emerging from the grasp of defeat to potential victory. It involves Alabama and possibly getting the Air Force tanker plant that could bring 7,000 jobs to Alabama. EADS actually won the contract in 2008, but an appeal from Boeing reopened the process.

When the new specifications were written, they appear to be in Boeing’s favor. Everybody counted EADS and Alabama out. The business world did not even expect a bid from EADS.

But on Thursday, Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America CEO, said that his company would bid for the proposal on July 9. EADS said, “Bid provisions favor Boeing, but I still like our hand better than theirs.”

This reminds me that one defeat in life does not have to be fatal or final. There can be opportunities for second chances. That is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.

Wherever you are in your life today thank God for the blessings you do have, utilize your best gifts to serve Him, and be open to all doors of opportunity that He might open.


     Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

     “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11, 12

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