Photo above: The Hertford Bridge in Oxford, England. Used by Permission. © Tom Ley 01302 782837

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Facing the Giants

By Gary Roberts
Robertson School of Government

Deuteronomy 1:27-29 (New Living Translation) You complained in your tents and said, ‘The Lord must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered. Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report. They tell us, “The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky! We even saw giants there—the descendants of Anak!”’ “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them!

Where are the giants in your life that impede the expansion of your physical, spiritual and emotional territory? I was greatly blessed by the film “Facing the Giants” about a losing football coach who used biblical principles to bring revival in himself thereby providing the spark for a Holy Ghost firestorm that ignited his family, the football program, the school, and an entire community. One of the “fear-busting” principles he employed was to redefine what “victory” entails. In order to attack the giants, the first step is to identify the enemy. The real adversary was not an absence of talent as God leverages whatever gifts and abilities we are given to achieve His will and goals, nor was it a low level of motivation as they all wanted desperately to win, the root cause was their belief that losing made them “losers” thereby agreeing with the “Gospel” of the secular worldview that accomplishments (the wins and losses of life) are the foundation of our identity.

This “vain imagination” belief created giants of fear that grew more powerful with each loss generating enslaving self-fulfilling prophecies of discouragement yoking the players and coaches with a slow growing cancer of negative self-image. The coach discovered the Kingdom principle that Godly victory is not achieved through a winning record, but the slow cultivation of Christ-like character as we endure and grow through trials and tribulations. He redefined the definition of team success by adopting the principle that we are stewards of our God-given gifts and abilities and that we honor and worship the Lord by giving our best efforts in pursuit of team goals regardless of the circumstances and the ultimate outcomes. The outcome of our efforts is God’s responsibility, not ours. We plant and reap, but only God gives the increase. “Winning” is realizing the collective potential of the team as each member dedicates himself to developing his God-given talents to support the communal efforts of the squad (the body of Christ).

Winning occurs when we exert every ounce of our energy in a God-honoring fashion playing by the letter and spirit of the rules of the game. As the coach stated, when we win we give God the glory, and when we lose we still praise Him. Atheists and agnostics ridicule the notion of prayer before football games, but they miss the essential Kingdom principle that in God’s economy He uses all circumstances to shape our character. Winning challenges us as we are tempted to worship our “greatness”, while losing tempts us to yield to despair and hopelessness (curse God and die) denying the power and providence of God to yield good fruit through all circumstances. Hence God concurrently uses winning and losing in a football the game to realize His unique purpose for each individual player and coach. God is the master efficiency expert who created this wonderfully complex and intricate universe, and He is well able to use winning and losing to reveal the hidden motives of the human heart and promote self-knowledge, learning and discovery. The coach discovered that great power occurs when we truly embrace Romans 8:28 that all things work out for the best for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. Let us all agree to “face the giants” in our lives recognizing that victory occurs by obeying and praising God in all circumstances. If we follow these principles, we can truly embrace the Apostle Paul’s’ joyous observation that we are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us.

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