Leaving the Game Early

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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” 2 Timothy 4:7

During my vacation, a good friend and member of our church gave me tickets to attend a UCLA football game. UCLA was playing Texas A&M on a rather warm and sultry Sunday afternoon.

UCLA wasn’t playing very well and Texas A&M was hitting on all cylinders (playing well). With 2:06 remaining in the third quarter, my alma mater was trailing by a whopping 34 points. To put it into historical perspective, the largest comeback in NCAA history was 35 points. The prognosis for a UCLA victory didn’t seem very likely.

Near the end of the third quarter, I began to notice a stirring in the stadium. It wasn’t a chorus of encouragement from the UCLA faithful. It was the steady departure of a large number of fans wearing their blue and gold. In their minds, all was lost and it was time to beat the crowds to the parking lot.

My wife, daughter (who is also a UCLA alumnus) and friend decided to “finish the course” and “keep the faith” even though the odds of victory seemed rather remote, if not impossible. Then something remarkable began to happen. The Bruins began to play with inspiration as well as perspiration.

Steadily, they mounted an incredible comeback. The offense scored and the defense held. One touchdown, two touchdowns, three touchdowns, four touchdowns and then, UCLA scored a dramatic fifth touchdown for an almost record-tying comeback.

The remaining UCLA fans went berserk as victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. We were absolutely elated. I couldn’t help but think about all the fans that left early and missed the implausible comeback.

This past weekend, some Trojan fans left the final moments of the fourth quarter of their game with Texas and missed a dramatic overtime victory by the USC.

There are times in life where everything appears to be bleak and impossible… a family breaks apart, a catastrophic illness occurs, a career careens, a child dies. In those seasons, it seems impossible to mount a comeback physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a “leaving the game early” moment of life.

Whenever, I have a “leaving the game early” moment in life, I remember the words of the Apostle Paul. While imprisoned, feeling abandoned by many of his friends and awaiting execution, he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” (2 Timothy 4:7).

He was able to finish the course and keep the faith because he knew something deeply embedded in his mind and soul. He knew that “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Paul understood that no matter how bad it got in this life, there is a victory awaiting him when he finished the course and kept the faith. Heaven awaited him.

No matter what is going on in your life, no matter how lopsided the score, don’t leave the game early, but finish the course and keep the faith because waiting for you is a certain victory no matter how far behind you fall.

Something to think about…