In the closing moments of Super Bowl 23, the San Francisco 49ers trailed the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13. The story goes that as the 49ers huddled to begin the final drive Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana looked to offensive lineman Harris Barton and asked “Hey H, isn’t that John Candy over there eating popcorn?” Barton looked over and saw the late actor John Candy in the stands eating popcorn. Barton could not believe that in the final minutes of the Super Bowl Joe Montana was looking at celebrities in the crowd. However, Joe Montana made a career of being cool under pressure. With thirty-four seconds left in the game, Montana threw a ten yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Taylor and the 49ers won 20-16.
Being able to take a step back under the enormity of the moment or the circumstances is something everyone has the potential to do, but very few put the skill into practice. A lesser experienced quarterback may have made a mistake on the final drive, but when you have the right system and the right players at the right time, the chances for success increase dramatically. When faced with the odds, what do you do? Dust yourself off and get up? Do you retreat in fear paralyzed by inaction? Do you seek refuge in a bottle of alcohol or pills? Do you play the blame game? Do you resign in despair and hopelessness?
Adversity can come in the form of one major obstacle or it can come in gradual waves, but the results are often the same and we are faced with what psychologists call “the fight or flight response.”
The persecution of the early church, more specifically, the Apostle Paul, is well documented in the New Testament. However, instead of shirking in fear or compromising on the message of the Gospel, the Apostles and other believers pressed on and within a few decades, Christ was preached to the far reaches of the Roman Empire. The early church is an example of pressing through when the times get tough.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-9, KJV).
When we seek to share Christ, set a new goal, go back to school, change careers or whatever the circumstances, we will face opposition, it is part of life. People around us may discourage us, telling us our dream is impossible or that we are too old. Maybe we have an idea when our personal finances are not in the best of shape to make a move. Maybe even Satan and outside spiritual forces try to talk us out of what we want to achieve. However, if God has placed the idea in your heart, if you have the personal drive and talent, to go forward, go forward. You cannot control the circumstances, only your response to the circumstances. Unfortunately, we may never have an “ideal” time because the time is now. While we live with eternity in our hearts, we must focus on the moment at hand. Obstacles can be opportunities.
“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, NIV).
If someone were to give you an expensive gift, wrapped with beautiful paper and ribbon, that person would expect you to open the gift in front of them and show gratitude. Depending on culture, the gift giver may feel insulted if you were to say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and never open the gift. God is the ultimate gift giver. Not only has God provided us with life and salvation, He has gifted us with talents, skills, ideas, character, and the gift of time. Some of the gifts and talents are not revealed until we reach down in the worst of life’s circumstances and draw from the deep well that is our capabilities.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5, NIV).
God bless you all.