I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
Siri gave me the bad news. I am a pastor. I’m not sure what you do on Saturday nights, but I know what is on my schedule. Forever, well almost forever, my Saturday nights have been reserved for doing the final studying for the message I am to deliver the next morning. My wife and I don’t generally accept any kind of engagements on that special night because, well, it is a big priority. Now, there is one kinda, sorta, exception. Notre Dame football.
I am not sure how it all started, but a long time ago I became a Notre Dame football fan. It really is the only thing in the sports world that I consistently follow. I’m not a huge sports fan, however, college football and Notre Dame football in particular, ranks pretty high with me. If I know there is a Notre Dame game schedule for Saturday night I will try and study earlier in the day to free up some time to watch the game that night. This past Saturday, despite all my good intentions, that just didn’t happen. That meant that the Irish would have to play largely without me. Now what made that particularly difficult was the Irish, ranked number four in the nation, was playing Clemson who was ranked number one. It was going to be a good game.
So what is a pastor/Notre Dame fan supposed to do? Well, I watched bits and pieces of the game and occasionally would ask Siri on my Apple watch what the score was. The Irish started off strong with a touchdown and by halftime had a pretty comfortable lead. I was ecstatic. I tuned in and out for most of the evening. I checked in somewhere and the lead had shrunk to four points. I figured I best not check in anymore or else the crowd at church was going to get a half-baked sermon. So I studied, and wrote and wrote and studied. Finally, about 9:45 pm or so I couldn’t resist the urge any longer. I asked Siri, “Hey Siri, what’s the score in the Notre Dame football game?” Her response was discouraging. No, it was devastating.
In her chirpy, Siri voice, totally indifferent to the pain she was about to cause, she said, “Notre Dame is losing to Clemson by a score of 26 to 33 with two minutes remaining.” What? I was studying about joy and mine plummeted like a roller coaster on a greased track. I muttered under my breath (never mind what I muttered) and studied a bit more before calling it quits. I went to bed. Notre Dame hadn’t lost a home game in forever and tonight that streak was going to end. Bummer.
The next morning, after some coffee, I picked up the sermon to give it the final look over. After a while, I went over to the computer to look something up and my email app was open. I took a moment to scan the list of emails that had come over night. Halfway down the list my glaze came to a screeching halt. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I get a regular email from a company that sells sports stuff. I especially like their fan gear like Notre Dame hoodies. If the Irish win, they will send out an email that declares their victory and then offer a special discount to celebrate. And…there it was.
The brief summary in the email list said it all, “Irish Beat Clemson.” Whoa…what? As fast as a rabbit running from a bobcat, I opened the email and saw that the Irish had indeed beat Clemson in a double overtime thriller by a score of 47 to 40. Fortunately, my Hopper thing from Dish records primetime and it had recorded the game. As fast as I could I turned on the television, went to the DVR and clicked the button and there was the game in all its glory. I cheated and watched the final two minutes but saved the rest for later. I got to watch the thriller ending after all…and it was incredible. Go Irish. Baptist or not—I love Notre Dame football.
Here is the amazing part. I went to bed Saturday night assuming that my team had lost. Down seven with two minutes to play—no way. But I should have known better because the Irish are famous for thrilling finishes but most of them don’t involve the number one team who had a 37 game winning streak…the reigning national champs. Yup, I went to bed a loser and woke up a winner. You just never know what is going to happen. It is true with Notre Dame football, but better yet it is true in life—especially when God is the head coach.
Life can be pretty difficult…especially these days. We have never seen so many uncertainties from so many directions and all at the same time. It is easy to think that we’ve lost the game. It is easy to go to bed thinking all is lost, game over. But God has an amazing way of turning it all around. An old quote says, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Well, I don’t know who this lady is and you shouldn’t call people fat anyway, but let me tell—with God in the mix she isn’t even humming her first bar of music. I’m trying to say, don’t give up…don’t be discouraged. You, or it, may seem like a lost cause but never, never is that true with God on your side.
I’ve heard some people say they like to read the end of a book first to see how things turn out. Well, I have read the end of His Book—and He wins in the end. Job, who knew all about hot mess circumstances said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Wow. You see, as I watched my recorded version of the game—even knowing the outcome—I winced at some missteps and cheered for every score. And the best part—I rested knowing that nothing I was about to see could change that outcome. The Irish were going to win. If you are a Jesus follower, no matter how crazy life gets, no matter how it seems God can’t pull it out—just rest in knowing He can. Nothing can change His planned outcome in this game called life. With Jesus you can rest assured, He’s got this.