Winning is a Process—Faith is Required
Hebrews 12:1b-2a says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Winning is a process. Think about it for a second. What happens the day after the game? Win or lose there is always the next day. J In 2003, I was assisting a high school basketball team in Colorado. We were undefeated heading into the state tournament, ranked #1, facing huge expectations. The amazing thing about the tournament was the fact that we won! We held up the trophy, hugged, high fived, had dinner together in celebration…then we all went home and went to bed. The next morning, when all the emotion wore off, I thought to myself, “Is this it?” Wow, I need to mow the lawn, clean the house, and get ready for work. I prayed about it and Hebrews came to mind. I understood the basic “run with perseverance” part, but realized I was ignoring Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith!
I also contemplated how the team we beat in the championship was feeling that morning. The team we played was also a Christian school. I knew them well and they clearly showed Christ in their efforts. They had every reason to believe that the Lord would give them the victory in game. However, they didn’t win and the disappointment on their faces was evident as we were running around in celebration. Then I recalled the countless other times I have been on that side of the score. I recalled my feelings and frustration. I also concluded that my feelings that Saturday morning after winning were eerily similar to every other day after the game—mow the lawn, clean the house, etc.
Here is my point. If you are feeling weary or discouraged about the winning or losing result, reread Hebrews chapter 12. God clearly points us to our internal faith as a guide in our challenge to persevere. We become so engrossed in the contest before us, the challenge of achieving our short term goals, that we forget God has given us the gift of the game as just part of our WHOLE life experience. Keep reading Hebrews. The blessing isn’t in the winning or losing of the current contest. The blessing comes in living. Remember the hardships in training? Remember the discipline and course corrections you made to improve? Remember the injuries? Many of you already of experienced the day when you no longer can compete. The blessing is in the perseverance – that produces a stronger faith, that fills you with new hope, that allows you to “do the next day in love.” The blessings are in loving others today. The final blessing is our ascension to heaven and living forever with the Lord.
Today, through faith, I see winning as a process that the Lord uses to refine people. There is huge freedom in knowing that since the Lord is in the process I can go for it! Dream big! Work to achieve the goal! But, the winning is IN the process – Invoke your faith in the Holy One and climb the mountain. Summon your faith and see what the Lord wants you to be. Apply your faith to every day and realize that winning isn’t just the contest before us today but all the contests we are privileged to participate in every day!
One quick story (I am a former fighter pilot and all pilots MUST tell a story!): I attended pilot training in 1984. From the outside, from my training folder, I was a student in a struggle. In my first seven flights, I threw up. For seven flights, all I could think about was dying. Once I even considered bailing out! Needless to say, I learned nothing in those flights and I was perpetually struggling to catch up. My goal was to graduate #1 and I was clearly a failure before the first evaluation. Those days, every game was a loss. However, faith that I was in the place God wanted me allowed me to understand that trials bring perseverance and hope. So I continued to “train for the next game.” I did graduate. And I became an instructor pilot and had the awesome privilege of flying F-15 fighter jets! I could have given up flying in those early days, but I do know that through faith I accepted the trials and became stronger. The trials set me up for the blessing to fly fighter jets! I can’t wait to see what heaven has in store for all of us who keep the faith.