victory!

On September 9, 2006 I was blessed with a last minute opportunity to attend the UK – Texas State football game with great friends.  The weather was beautiful and warm for hours of tailgating fun.  And then about an hour before kick-off, a cloud rolled in.  Questions arose about the possibility of rain but nobody was really worried because there wasn’t even a chance of rain forecasted until Tuesday.  Yet, as the minutes passed by and the sky grew darker, we were forced to face reality.  Within about 20 minutes, we went from sunny skies to monsoon.  Yes, it was that serious – if you weren’t there, you just don’t know.  (Apparently there wasn’t even a drop of rain anywhere in Lexington except Commonwealth Stadium.)  At first it was kind of entertaining as we watched a port-a-potty tent blow down the road and it brought a deeper sense of unity to hundreds of groups of tailgaters as individuals all crowded under canopies releasing any concern for maintaining personal space.  But the excitement quickly turned to annoyance as we realized that there was no hope of coming out of this with dry clothes and there was almost no hope of coming out alive.  The rain came down and literally flooded the parking lot.  The wind blew so hard we had to hold on to our canopy as it was being ripped from the ground.  And the lightning was coming down as if we were its target.  Some people bailed out, opting to forego the game altogether and encouraged others to go with them.  But, the faithful stuck around and endured the storm despite the fact that there was no visible evidence of brighter skies.  We had hope of better times to come.  And we stuck around hoping to enjoy the game, hoping that our team would show up and play real football (despite the lingering memory of the terrible loss they encountered the week before against Louisville and the not-so-winning seasons that fans have had to tolerate for several years), hoping that we’d have a reason to stand up and cheer.  And, in the end, hope did not disappoint.  In the end, there was victory – victory in the form of a 41-7 win, Wildcats over Bobcats.

As I thought about that experience, I couldn’t help but think about the bigger picture.  In life, so much happens that gives us no reason to hope in something better.  And in life, we are often surrounded by people who encourage us to bail on God, to give up our faith.  We all experience storms that, from the middle of the experience, look like they’ll never pass – the ending of a relationship, the death of someone we love, the loss of a job, the break-up of a family, the rejection of friends, the diagnosis of a serious/deadly illness . . . and the list could go on forever.  But those of us who have a real relationship with the God of the universe because of the Risen Christ, those of us who commit our lives to living the way God has called us to live and being who He has called us to be, those of us who live in His story, have every reason to hope because in the end . . . victory!  The reality is, our life in this world is only a fraction of our life of eternity.  And though life in this world is filled with storms, if we are faithful we will not be disappointed!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope
for and certain of what we do not see.
  (Hebrews 11:1)
For in this hope we were saved. 
But hope that is seen is no hope at all. 
Who hopes for what he already has? 
But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently. 
(Romans 8:24-25)
“I have told you these things, so that in
me you may have peace.  In this world you
will have trouble.  But take heart! 
I have overcome the world.” 
-Jesus (John 16:33)
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