It’s Gotta Be the Shoes! While Tim Tebow prays for a better “next year” for the Denver Broncos, it would appear that God has passed the off-season torch to someone else in the world of professional sports: Jeremy Lin. Lin is a rising star on the New York Knicks’ basketball roster and a household word on ESPN. However, hearing his name mentioned on John Piper’s blog yesterday made me think – “maybe we’ll get cable again and start watching the Knicks”. Of course, immediately after, a better idea buzzed into my brain – “No, we’ll just keep doing what God has called us to do and not be distracted.” (Plus, I’m a Celtics fan, and legally prohibited for cheering for any NY team or player. Note to my dear Jersey-raised wife: I love you, dear, but please!!!)
Know Your Platform…
It’s great to see men of great intellect (that kid’s wicked smaaht, he went ta Haavid…) and powerful athletic ability (136 pts in his first 5 games. What.) living life on God’s purpose and for God’s glory. It’s especially great when they understand the value of their platform. This is also true for you and I… No, not the Harvard thing or the more points than Shaq part. The “platform” part.
So, lemme ask you a question – do you even know your platform? Platform, defined, is “ahorizontalsurfaceorstructurewithahorizontal surfaceraisedabovethelevelof the surroundingarea.” Extended to the Christian life, it means the place that God has elevated you or I to, which allows others to see His work in our life and realize His glory. It’s the place that you work, play, or have any kind of influence that allows you the visibility and opportunity to point to Jesus. Tebow understands football is his platform to share the gospel and point the glory back to God. Lin, apparently sees basketball as his platform.
According to Piper
Yesterday, Desiring God posted about Lin-sanity and how Jeremy recently quoted one of Piper’s books “Don’t Waste Your Life”:
“God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.”John Piper – via Jeremy Lin
Lin later goes on to say that the happiness he gets from basketball is only temporary – his treasure is truly in Christ and in Heaven. Basketball isn’t his everything, it’s just a platform to point to his Everything.
Cardinals ball player Albert Pujols writes on his foundation’s website:
“Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I would also rather be known as a great husband and father than an All-Star baseball player. Perhaps one day I could be honored with an invitation into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. That would certainly be a boyhood dream of mine come true, but it is a far greater honor that one day I will be in heaven with God to enjoy Him forever.” (HT: Jesse Whitfield)
So, what? So, these guys are famous and they’re pointing to Jesus, what does that have to do with me? I’m glad I mockingly made you ask that. You and I are famous. No, really. Somewhere in some circle, whether it’s Facebook, our neighborhood, the 2nd floor of the admin building we work in, or just the five cubes in the corner of our office, somebody knows our name. And, they either know Jesus or they don’t. God has given us a platform – a place where we can be seen either to point at ourselves or at Jesus. The question is, where are we pointing and for what reason?
See Ephesians 6.11-17 for “the armor of God”
Your Shoes, Not Theirs.
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game: “well, he’s a famous ball player…” “she’s a great musician” or “I’m just an H/R guy” etc. But, if we’re going to be great at the fundamental blocking and tackling of the Christian life, we’ve got to start with the top and the bottom – the helmet of salvation and the gospel sandals of peace. What other people do, have, and where they’re placed does not need to be a distraction to us doing what we’re supposed to do in the place God has called and placed us.
In one famous “armor of God” section of Ephesians (Eph. 6:11-17), is a phrase sometimes rendered as “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace…” When we (Cristine and I) pray this portion of scripture we often pray it in such a way that sounds like “God, help us to have the courage to speak up (witness to others) when the opportunity pops up”. In other words, “help us use the platform You have given us for Your glory in Your timing“.
For Those About to Rock…
Many of us would exchange anything to be a Pujols, a Tebow, or a Lin. But, regardless of our station in life, we’re called to embrace what God has given us. There’s a big difference between “wearing” something and “rocking” it. Wearing something is a have to. Rocking it implies an attitude of “holy cockiness”, that is boasting in Christ. It honors God when we pray – “help me wear and walk in my ‘platform’ shoes, with an attitude of thankfulness that I’ve got shoes at all.”
Get in the Game:
Have you identified your platform? Are you using it for God’s glory? Will you stay miles away from the comparison game by letting Jeremy Lin be Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow be Tim Tebow, and you be you – uniquely created and placed where you are by God to bring the gospel to believer and unbeliever alike as God directs?
Put your platform shoes on. Don’t just wear them, rock ’em like you just sank a 3 pointer with .5 seconds left in the game for Team Jesus.
And, as a special reminder, put on your Love Glasses – so you can see people as God sees them! (HT: Beckah Shae)
Anyone who knows me knows when I’m talking sports, I’m way above my pay grade. So, it seems a bit ironic to me that God would have me posting on encouragement and with a sports analogy the morning after my team lost the Super Bowl. (Even moreso when this was hoped to be their vindication for the last loss to the Giants…) But, hey, everyone’s got their team and every team has wins and losses, right?
While it’s hard to watch Gronkowski and Hernandez drop the Hail Mary passes in the final moments of the game, I often have a harder time watching the nation of Israel drop the ball when God sets up perfect pass after perfect pass. God, the one, true, living God, who is Creator of the universe, looks down at Abraham and for no other reason than His mercy, says “I will make a nation of you. You will be my chosen people.” No other “team” hitherto had been given this distinction. “God’s team.” you could call them. God favored them more than the Broncos and they didn’t even Tebow to Him very often.
Quiet Time Armchair Quarterbacking:
Frankly, I ache every time I read Judges, when Israel forsakes the God who delivered them from Egypt, the Red Sea, the Dessert, the Jordan River, the New York Middle East Giants, the Canaanites, etc. Instead, I’m doing what I tried to do last night after the 2 minute warning – watch something else. I’m reading 1 Samuel. Should have left the Bowl on. Here they are, a nation who’s learned the “turn back to God” lesson 7 times over the course of 400 years and their spiritual condition as a nation is so low that when things get tough on the battle field, the elders – the coaching staff of the nation, who should have known better – call the worst play in history:
“There’s no time for fasting and prayer – let’s force God’s hand to act on our behalf! God can fit in a box and do our bidding when we tell him to. GO GET THE ARK!!!” (See 1 Sam. 4.3)
“NOOOOooooooOOOO!!!” I’m up on my feet, screaming at Tom Brady – uh, I mean, my bible… “Don’t do it!!!” Israel follows a pattern that gave this play its’ name: the essence of the “Hail Mary pass” is “throw first, pray while the ball is in the air”, isn’t it? Isn’t this the illustration of what the nation of Israel does at that very moment?! Let’s get on the hook with them… How often do you and I throw first, pray later? If you can’t say “amen”, you’d better say “ouch”.
Cut to the Chase:
In Christ, there is no other team that God is rooting for. There is no other team that has His favor. There is no team other than those who are “in Christ” who have Christ “in them”. At any given moment today, you have the greatest power ever unleashed on the planet at your disposal, but you cannot wield it to your means or ends. The power of the Holy Spirit (the same Holy Spirit that empowered Israel from without) within you is not to be used for your team, but for God’s team. So…
So, What/What Now?
Pray first, listen, and consider your next move. Jesus did it… often. He told the disciples is was better for Him to leave and the Holy Spirit to come and power to come upon them (Acts 1.8). “Is this decision [to stay with the girl, to close this deal, to make this next phone call, to hit “send”] for my glory or God’s glory?” Be encouraged, I’ll say it again: “there is no other team God is rooting for other than His Kingdom.” Take solace in the fact that if plans fail God’s not surprised. (If you lose, grieve the loss and don’t let well meaning people tell you to “get back on the horse” too early. Again, God is not surprised. An omniscient God has nothing to learn.) The Good News of the gospel is not that everything is going to go your way, my way, the Pats’ way, or even Tim Tebow’s way (quad erat deomonstratum). It’s that it’s all going God’s way. Get in the flow of His plan, listen for His next audible, and don’t snap that pass until He says “throw”. Oh, and pray the Pats are vindicated next year. Oh, brother.