“It’s just a game.” Those were the words meant to reassure me on the rare occasion when I was being reluctantly recruited to play neighborhood baseball (they were extremely rare and you will soon enough understand the reason). I quickly experienced the sharp pain of those lying syllables. Being of corpulent stature, incapable of discerning the incoming arc of the projectile lethally hurtling in my direction (skill unaided by the spontaneous closing of eyes), lacking sufficient coordination to place attention on more than one source of action at a time, erratically creative pitches (never twice toward the same target), all combined to earn me a series of unflattering jeers and catcalls from my brothers and their friends (I have previously written about my multiple basketball court disorientated humiliations). Other games, thankfully, were gentler, more accessible, threatening less bodily harm, like Pick Up Sticks, the multi-colored bamboo sticks dropped in random fashion on any flat surface and needing to be retrieved one at a time in such a way as to disturb no neighboring sticks. Later, there was Operation, a battery-powered, nerve-wracking game daring you to try to excise body parts from the dummy, with tweezers, without sounding the buzzer. Much later, for me, were Jenga blocks, equally challenging in the one-by-one removal of the wooden game pieces without collapsing the tower. But these were all just games.
In the ‘not a game’ category, but similarly risk laden, is the life of discipleship into which Jesus calls us. He repeatedly sounded the alarm to his disciples and to any others who would listen, that his invitation to eternal life was fraught with obstacles and setbacks and rejections and hatred. Beyond these disconcerting pronouncements, his own life modeled for them, and for us, the gritty reality facing us. While there are, admittedly, unpleasant details foretold throughout Scripture, there is also an infinitely superior, irrepressible hope which has taken up residence within our souls. Drenched in this hope, we find ourselves commissioned to a long obedience in the same direction. Like the games mentioned above, stability and steadiness are key. Here again, we are blessed beyond belief in our salvation with the indwelling Spirit of God, Who is always at the ready to instruct, encourage, warn, re-direct, lead back to Truth. We live on the battlefield of an already-won war, the outcome of which is eternally, and neatly, tied up. So, “We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.” Heb. 12:2, TPT. “Now, may the God of peace and harmony set you apart, making you completely holy. And may your entire being – spirit, soul, and body – be kept completely flawless in the appearing of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. The one who calls you by name is trustworthy and will thoroughly complete his work in you.” 1 Thess. 5:23,24 TPT. More tomorrow, 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. Anyone up for a game? PD