I am a Bama fan. I am a Bama fan to the core. Just last, the Tide won their 16th National Championship. It was their fourth championship in seven years and the eighth national championship for an SEC team in the last 10 years. How does something of this magnitude happen by the same team year, same conference year after year?
These teams, not just Bama and even including Auburn, do this by having a plan and following it. I’m not just talking about the play books that the team members learn backwards and forwards. There are plans for recruiting, plans for financing, plans on how to feed and house the players and staff at away games. There are plans on how the team does public relations. If the plan is followed, the teams get the better players, who perform better than others, who draw more fans than others, who earn their school more money for financing, who then displays better images to the public, so that the next round of better players will want to go to their school. And the circle repeats.
Life, like football, basketball, soccer, baseball, NASCAR, and all sporting events, has a plan and a play book. It’s the Holy Bible, the Word of God. It’s been around for thousands of years and has never failed once. Where we fail, just like a team in sports, is when we fall away from the plan. I am as guilty as the next. Something bad happens and sure we all pray in times of distress but once the rough time is over, the playbook starts collecting dust on the shelf or beside our bed.
After spending a lot of time in James 1, I realized that this was not going to be anything like what I have been used to. Taking this chapter and pulling it apart, verse by verse, word by word, reading it multiple times, in multiple translations with multiple commentaries has been an eye opening experience. This chapter has spoken to me more this week than I have ever known. So many life issues are in this very first chapter and it has given me a peace about what God is doing and what I need to do.
Bring in James 1……..
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Trials grow our faith. When our faith is tested, how do we respond and how do others see us and our faith during these trials? Just a few verses answer the hardest question of all time, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” One of the commentaries also said that “Our trials down here, bring us rewards in heaven.” Sure we went through a horrible experience, but we both know where we will be and we have a son or a daughter that we have never met, there waiting for us right now.
Bring on more James 1….
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:22-25
Last year I read through the entire Bible. That is not a boast, that is a failure. You see the key word in that phrase is read. I read through the Bible to be reading it, like I read the Hardy Boys when I was younger. I didn’t study it, didn’t take it in, and didn’t put the words on my heart. I read it word by word so that I can say, I’ve read the entire bible. If the Tide had only read through their playbook, they would have no clue what to do when the ball was snapped. In the same sense, if they didn’t go into action once that ball was snapped, they would have been creamed in the first game. They took their playbooks, committed it to memory, lived out in practice what the book showed them to do, and put it into action during the game and their actions in turn, gave them their reward when it was all over.
When it was all over, because they had a plan, because they followed it, because they put it into action, they have Become the BEST!
Your Word has spoken to me more and louder this week than ever before. Help me to see Your plan in Your Word. Help me to know what when trials come, it is an opportunity to grow my faith. Help me to know that even in times of trials, You are there. You have a plan that is bigger than me, but I am a part of it. Help me to live out Your Word, not just hear it or read it, but to make it my own.