This is the most wonderful time of the year; fall is in the air and football is on the ground. The youth football season started last week, college football started this past Thursday night and I am anxiously awaiting the beginning of the real NFL season. My joy abounds. Still, there are days when I hurt all over. My head hurts because there is so little tolerance for the diverse prisms through which we see life and there is a declining appreciation for the myriad ways we have come to survive it. My neck hurts because I snap it every time somebody fails to understand that you can’t continuously cripple a class of people and then demand that they govern themselves like those of privilege. My eyes hurt from having to witness the blatant lack of compassion and the many injustices that plague our world. My ears hurt from having to listen to people lie – even when they know the truth- just so they can hold on to power. My stomach hurts because I sometimes swallow my words when I want to admonish those who are influencing children in a generational-curse-kind of way. My feet hurt from just trying to keep up amid tight schedules, daily trials and accumulating birthdays. My heart hurts because we were (and are) all born into sin and, the awful fact is too many of us will continue to wallow there, without the feeling of love, without the guidance of God. But this is not a woe is me diatribe. I have medicine; I have a Balm in Gilead!
All of us were created in the image and likeness of God – all of us. But we were (are) born into sin with a connection that was (is) dormant, inoperative. God can’t look upon sin, so He gave us another way to get to Him; He sent His Son to save us – to atone for us. So whenever God looks at us, He is looking through the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:9). In essence, we were born heading straight into eternal darkness, destruction and despair – going to hell in a hand-basket. But somewhere, on our personal Damascus Road, we had an encounter with Christ that saved our lives. During the encounter, we chose to believe the Good News and when we believed, we were justified and our profession of faith saved us (Romans 10:10). Our connection to God became live and living and it changed our trajectory; we began moving on up! Our x-axis continued to move horizontally while our y-axis began its vertical ascent. (This is why good without God is wonderful in order to get along with people and to avoid earthly consequences, but it will do nothing for you eternally.) We are now functioning branches attached to The Awesome Vine (John 15:5); capable of doing anything because Christ strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
Falcon’s assistant coach Terry Robiski played NFL football. All three of his sons play football – two professionally one likely on his way. Peyton and Eli Manning had an NFL quarterback for a dad and were predisposed to play that position in the NFL. Doc River’s son Austin grew up with basketball and now plays in the NBA. John H. Johnson created a brand that his daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, now oversees. And the list goes on that way. We tell children that they can be anything they set their minds to be. And while that is true, it is hard to accomplish a shift alone. Still, we have witnessed many who have traveled roads that were foreign to family members who had gone before. All of these folks had exposure that shifted and broadened their perspectives. Arthur Ashe played championship tennis. Jackie Robinson is a legend who played professional baseball. Gabby Douglas won Olympic gold – twice. President Barack Obama’s dad – well you know the story. And the list goes on that way. The point is there is a definitive event – a fork in the road that changes the path and starts a personal ascent upward, even in a metaphorical foreign land.
We Christians need to multiply our efforts to expose everybody to the Good News, even in this foreign land – especially in this foreign land. (Thank you Antoinette Tuff.) Everybody needs to know that “there is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. . . If you cannot sing like angels, if you can’t preach like Paul, you can tell of the love of Jesus and say He died for all (Negro Spiritual of unknown origin).” Spread the Word!