The New England Patriots are the world champions. It is now the day after. The 2016-2017 NFL football season is officially behind us, along with all the life lessons that the season taught us. Sorry to be using football allegories for this post. I tried to soften it up with a picture of flowers, but I just can’t help myself. I’m a football mom. I have lived this football life more years than I care to count. I have loved football and I have hated football, but always God has a lesson or two for me to learn by watching this game that cause me great anxiety. I don’t know if you caught the sequence before the game when the Fox football commentators interviewed Diane Long, Howie Long’s wife. She has been both a wife to an NFL player and now she is a mom of an NFL player. Their son is Chris Long and plays for the New England Patriots. I loved her interview as she tried to put into words the anxiety you feel watching your son play and now to be playing in the highest contest of this sport. There really are no words to explain how your stomach turns over inside of you.
There are no words, but there are lessons that can be verbalized. It is now the day after, the day you think back on every play of the game, and Sports Center’s analyzing all the mistakes that were made. Fans are singing praises to the fight of Tom Brady and the Patriots. Maybe Matt Ryan’s wishing he had this play back or that play back. Atlanta’s wishing they could take away certain penalties. Kevin calls those plays, “The what if plays.” “What if” Edelman doesn’t make that catch and the ball does hit the turf? “What if” Matt Ryan didn’t get sacked that last possession? “What if, What if, What if?” You could “What if” and analyze the game til the start of next football season, but would those “What if’s” change the outcome? No because the outcome is the outcome. You can’t go and replay the game, and it is just not healthy to do that to yourself. You must move on. It’s the way football games fall. Learn from your mistakes and make yourself better because of them. It’s the way life is.
We all have moments that change the outcome of our lives. We all have “What if’s?” “What if I could go back and change that decision?” We don’t get that luxury. Just like football games, we don’t get to go back and correct mistakes made.
But we have a Redeemer who takes mistakes and buys them back, Jesus Christ our Lord. One definition of redeem is to “buy away from.” Jesus came to buy us away from our mistakes.
Last week as I was following my journey with Jesus while I wrote another chapter in the book, “On the Way.” I journeyed with Him to Jacob’s Well and I met a woman of ill repute. She had made many mistakes in her life, but she had a moment that changed the trajectory of her life. She met Jesus. In a moment He restored her. Jesus forgave her mistakes and gave her a life better than her life of sin. And because of her moment that changed her life, her hometown was changed. She inspired the villagers of Sychar to meet Jesus themselves. She challenged them to form their own opinions of Him. And when they did salvation came to their town. The village of Sycar was redeemed by Jesus’ presence among them. Our society need God’s salvation to come into our hometowns and our country, but it begins with us. It begins when we have our moments with Jesus that changes how we live our lives. These are the moments that change a person, that change a town, that change a country, that changes a world.
There were moments in the second half of that game that changed the Patriot’s deficit of 21-3 at half-time to a final victory of 34 – 28. Those moments made by both defense and offense came because they had a never give up attitude. They didn’t go in at halftime and fold, or moan, or bewail themselves, and take on the attitude that all is lost. No. They went in regrouped and went into that second half with the determination to slowly chisel away at their deficit.
That’s Jesus’ attitude for us. That was His attitude toward the woman at the well. When all others told Him He shouldn’t travel through Samaria, He traveled through Samaria. When all others saw only a prostitute with no future, Jesus saw a new future for her. He never gave up on her, and He will never give up on us. He died with arms outstretched to show His never give up Spirit.
We all make mistakes. We all have “What if” moments that we can’t go back and redo. But we also have a Savior who works all things for our good. We have a hero who never gives up on us.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV.