Monday, March 23, 2020

Give us a pep talk Coach Taylor

Entire states are shutting down, schools and universities are canceled, people are scared, and this pandemic seems to be getting worse by the day.  In the wake of all the "bad" news that we have gotten over the last week, I get the feeling that we sure could use some encouragement.  We have so many fears, doubts, and questions rolling around in our heads that we need words of encouragement.  We need to hear words that will motivate us to continue the fight, to hold on a little longer.  We have to pull our heads out of the sand and stand tall.  

As we are all stuck at home, working remotely, educating kids, surviving on PB&J, afraid to enter into public, why not find a good movie to lift our spirits?  For my money, there is nothing like a sports movie to change the mood.   In a good sports movie, there are a few must-haves.  It must have the training montages, the struggle, a fist-pumping soundtrack, and the slow-motion victory celebration.  One other must-have that contains some of the most quoted lines is the quintessential, but obligatory, motivational talk/pregame Coach speech.  You probably have your favorite but if not here are a few good ones.

“Clear eyes, full hearts… can't lose!”  Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights

“I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game.  We’ll be winners!” Coach Dale, Hoosiers.

“Great moments are born from great opportunities.” Coach Brooks, Miracle

“And you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together, right now, on this hallowed ground, we, too, will be destroyed—just like they were.” Coach Herman Boone, Remember the Titans.

“In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody, but yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen.” Fortune, Rudy

“Ducks fly together!”   Coach Bombay, The Mighty Ducks.   

Just reading these words can bring goosebumps to our arms and tears to our eyes.  Watch the videos, and I am ready to run through a wall.  What is it about these words that get our juices flowing?  Why do we look for and need encouraging words facing a great trial?  I believe the reason is that these words clam our fears and direct our efforts and attention.  Before the game,  despite all of the preparations, efforts, and skills, there are still feelings of doubt.  This fear is as real and true in pee-wee games of t-ball as it is in professional sports.  The reason we doubt our ability is because we know deep down we are not as good as we think we are.  Pregame speeches are designed to help us forget, if just for a few moments, that we are not a big sloppy mess.     

In times like this, when it is evident that we are not as powerful as we think we are, a few good words from Psalms is EXACTLY what we need…
The Psalms was one of those books of the Bible that was not written all in one sitting, but is instead, a compilation of different authors from different times in Israel's history.  It contains prayers, hymns, laments, and songs covering a wide range of human experiences and emotions.

Psalms is a book of prayersnot poems.   They were written to help God’s children put words to the emotions of life.  Some of the Psalms are cries of distress to God during a trial.   Other Psalms seek God’s intercession or focus on His incredible blessings.  Some Psalms just sing about His love.  In all, the Psalms are meant to be the chorus that leads us as God’s children through the highs and lows of life right back to His Throne! 

Psalm 121:1–8 (ESV)
A Song of Ascents. 
1I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 
2My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 
3He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 
4Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 
5The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 
6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 
7The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 
8The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore

We all know that being Christian does not mean there is a promise to be delivered from the hardships or pains of this world.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  The promise is that "through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22).  

Psalm 121 reminds us that in the middle of our struggles, our help comes not from this world, governments, stimulus packages, or even shelves full of toilet paper and eggs.  Our help is from the ONE who made EVERYTHING!!  Our help comes from ONE who never fades away or runs out and never changes (Heb 13:8).   ONE who never sleeps and never looks away.  ONE who is not indifferent, but fully alert and aware of all that is happening!!  The assurance is also that this ONE will protect His own at all times, in all places. 

This psalm encourages us to rest and trust in God and by faith, to know that we under His protection and care.  This psalm gives to our hearts divine certainties that are meant to tip the scales of this world and human uncertainties.  These divine certainties are vividly witnessed at the CROSS of Christ.  It is there we know fully just how committed God is to His children.  It is there where we are told of the victory that because of Jesus, is now ours… “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 15:55-56)

In a world where things just seem to keep getting worse, we can allow our hearts to become infected with the news of the day and become overwhelmed with fear.   Instead, let us not look at the hills, but allow us to use the Good News to know exactly where our help comes from.   There we can drink from the remedy of the Gospel that will give us "clear eyes and a full heart!!"  Then and only then we are sure to NEVER LOSE!!


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