Friday, August 12, 2011

Keep Cheering

What team are you on?
In about two weeks, I'll be turning nineteen. While this isn't a significant birthday - other than the fact that it's my Golden Birthday, 19 on the 19th yeah! - it does have one unfortunate fact: I have officially lived another year of my life without seeing the Pirates have a successful season. I have lived my entire life without seeing the Pirates even somewhat near playoff contention, and I have grown accustomed to this. As a family, we normally go to a few Pirate games every season; it took me until I was 15 to see the Pirates actually win a game.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Buccos - yes, I may hate on them at times, but really what Pittsburgh-er doesn't? Even though they may not play the best at times, there's always hope for the next game.
Imagine the thrill, then, of this season...well, this season up to about 9 or 10 games ago. The Pirates were first place in their division and nearing playoff contention - unheard of! For a while I was convinced that it was all a joke. But they had something good going - they were working together as a team and finding the best way to make everything and everyone fit together. Of course, as I'm sure you're well aware, the Bucs are in something like a 10-game losing slump, putting them that many games behind first place. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
If you think about it, there's someone who is an even bigger fan than the most dedicated Pirates fan. (Who, by the way, could easily be my youth pastor. Just saying.) As hard as it is to cheer for the Pirates, who seem to mess up sometimes and never get it right, imagine how hard it would be to cheer for us!
Consider this. We're human. God designed us this way. We are  flawed, and never will be perfect - only Christ is and ever will be. So, naturally, we mess up a whole lot by ourselves anyway. That's already understood. Now, what about all the times that we mess up and we know it? Lying to our parents. Backstabbing a friend. Skipping out on personal time with God. Going farther with our boyfriend or girlfriend and knowing it. Stealing something from a store. Anything like this - it's a sin. Every time something like this happens, it's like another Pirates loss or failed play - just like the fans get upset, God gets upset - but to a much larger scale. 
When the Pirates are losing big time, its easy to just give up and forget about them. Luckily, God doesn't do that for us. God is cheering for us to make it, to overcome the obstacles and learn from our mistakes so that, with His help, we can learn not to make the same bad choices over and over again.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9
This verse is telling us that if we just admit to God that we messed up, He will always wipe that sin away from our name - it's gone, like it never happened. And just like that, we're back in His good standings, .500 in the rankings, ready to move on. However, it's up to us - we can keep moving forward, winning our battles with His help and making the most of what He's given to us and go above and beyond the straight .500 we were at. Or, we can instead turn back to what we were doing, going on a losing slump and not realizing that we're even far worse off than before. 
Your NR challenge for this post is this - figure out how your performance in the game of life is going. Are you heading toward the ultimate game, eternal life in heaven, or are you slowly making your way over to another team - Satan's team? The Bible says there isn't a neutral position in the Lord; every day you're making decisions that either make you more like Him or less like Him. It's up to you to decide what team you're playing for. 
God's cheering for us to make it, and to make the right decisions. No matter our performance in life, whether we live for Him or for ourselves, God loves us. He's still cheering, still rooting that you'll come back to the Home Team. Can you hear Him?
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As a Pirates fan, I sometimes understand this quote better than other times. The boys can play the same way game after game, producing the same loss statistic and sliding down in the rankings. But, I never give up home that they can turn it around. Call it insanity if you will, but I call it hope, or determination. And I'm not the only one - God continually is hoping and praying for us to make the right choices, say and do the right things, all to glorify Him. And what is the consequence with our performance? Following the One who created us and then DIED for us, so one day we can gain eternal life with Him in heaven? Or living for ourselves for a short number of years, to only be granted with the most devastating result ever - an eternity in Hell, away from the One who loves us more than anything. 
Who is the insane one now?
Are you in?


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