In me going against my roots of being a born and raised hater of the international sport known to world as football; Iâ€™ve really been enjoying learning about the sport that we Americans call soccer. This World Cup was a ton of fun for me to follow and actually be a fan of. Even if my Czechs did play pretty dismal! But yesterday as I watched the final between Italy and France, I didnâ€™t know who to cheer for. Iâ€™ve been to Italy and they are a warm, fun people, but I really admired the play and class of ZinÃ©dine Zidane and thus my allegiances fell to the French squad.
So as the game went to overtime and looked like it was going to penalty kicks I was excited to see Zidane be the hero and end his career on top! Then suddenly Zidane and one of my not so favorite Italians, Materazzi (he scored the first goal against the Czechs and broke my heart and the hearts of many of Czechs), had an exchange and then Zidane dropped the hammer with a vicious head-butt. ( click HERE to read the story,) Being a football player (that being American football) part of me loved it, but moreover, my heart was saddened that a classy player will go out like this.
It reminded me of two things; 1) two pieces of Scripture, 2) a story.
Here is the story first. I heard this at a menâ€™s time at a Campus Crusade Conference while I was in college. I believe it was a story about Billy Graham, but that detail could be wrong, but letâ€™s say it was about Billy. So when Billy Graham was beginning to become more widely known as an evangelist there were several men that were well-known and respected pastors and/or evangelists and Billy Graham had the names of several of these men, and his own, inside his Bible cover. Well over time man after man fell away. One fell away for unfaithfulness within his marriage, and another fell away for extortion, and another fell away due to the burdens of ministry getting the best of him and so on. I think you get the point. The only name that remains is that of Billy Graham and look how God has used his life to draw thousands, if not millions, to Himself. This brings us to the two sections of scripture; both come from the pen of one of my biblical heroes, Paul:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth 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. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Billy Graham witnessed men fall away and miss finishing the race that was set before them. Zidane in the heat of the moment lost his cool and, sadly, will be remembered for this silly moment. It challenges me to consider the way that I am running the race that Jesus has set before me. My director and good friend Billy Crossan often tells me, â€œI want to see you walking with the Lord for a life time and that is what is most important to me. That comes before ministry and results.â€ Wise words and I try to live them and run with purpose and resolve so one day I can say that I have run the race and there is a phatty (slang for really nice) reward awaiting me when I see my Jesus face to face and, Lord-willing, hear him say, â€œWell done my good and faithful servant.â€ May the Lord enable each of us to run in a manner that glorifies Him and brings Him pleasure and us delight! Because after all I don’t want to leave the field of life with my head down in disgrace as walk past the only trophy that really matters and that is the crown of righteousness that awaits.
longing to be a revolution…