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Thursday, January 09, 2014

It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over

“The Lord is King forever and ever …” (Psalm 10:16)
Florida State v. Auburn

The final of the NCAA football championship was an amazing game this year. The Florida State Seminoles and their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, high on a record-breaking season, were pitted against the upstart Auburn Tigers, recent defeaters of last year’s national champions. Florida State was touted as the prohibitive favorite — but as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Auburn stormed out onto the field and took the Seminoles off guard. Their crafty game plan, superior aggression at the line and some stellar execution by their offense rapidly staked them to an overwhelming 21-3 lead. Meanwhile, nothing the Seminoles tried seemed to work, and Auburn’s every touch of the ball was golden.

But as they say, the game weren’t over yet.

On fourth down and long, Florida State suddenly faked a punt and scrambled for a rare first down. This eventually led to their first points of the game. Still, they trailed 21-10 at the half.

In the second half, at last FSU began to make a few plays on defense, and slowly their offense began to put up points. Eventually they were ahead by a mere three points. But with only 1:19 to go, Auburn’s running back scored what should have been a game-winning touchdown. But still it was true that the game was not quite over.

At that crucial moment, the FSU quarterback stepped up and took charge. The team went on a roll down the field, and suddenly the Auburn defense could do nothing right. With only 13 seconds left, they scored the touchdown that put the game out of reach of the Auburn offense. The game was finally actually over, and it was time to tell the tale of the 2014 NCAA National Football Championship.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

That’s a lesson we all need to remember when we think about this world. The events that take place here reflect a time when Team Cynical seems to be ahead, and Team God seems to be faltering, and maybe even falling out of the game. Yet this is an old story, and one that is no news to anyone who reads the Bible. Long ago, the psalmist wrote,
“… the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire,
And the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord.
The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.
All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’.
His ways prosper at all times …
As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them.
He says to himself, ‘I will not be moved;
Throughout all generations I will not be in adversity …’ ”
One thing that’s abundantly clear about our world today is that you don’t get ahead by being good, and you don’t lose because you’re evil. The wicked often prosper. The innocent often suffer. There is no denying that if success is the metric, then those who disregard or even mock God appear to have the upper hand. Free of all moral constraints, they can do anything necessary to guarantee that they get ahead. They are kings of this day, free to strut and preen while good people encumbered by moral scruples, and the reverence for God, fall behind. In fact, it often looks like their struggling and suffering has no longer any prospect of redress: justice will never come.

But both sides can often lose sight of this: the game ain’t over yet. Until it is, the proud man boasts in vain, and the wicked man struts his success at his own peril.

What they do not know, what they cannot admit, is that God is King forever and ever. End of story.

When God’s reign — the reign of righteousness — begins, it never ends. Those who hate Him are kings now, but they are only ‘king for a day’. The Lord is King forever and ever.

It is as the Bard warned us
“In the corrupted currents of this world, offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice, and oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself buys out the law; but ’tis not so above. There is no shuffling; there the action lies in his true nature, and we ourselves compell’d, even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, to give in evidence.”
And so it will be.

And so, in a way, the Christian life is really like watching a recording of a football game. As we watch we do not know how the plays will work out. Who will have the ball, what plays will be run, and what accidents will happen along the way are unknown to us. At times, our team may seem to suffer irreparable setbacks, and the adversaries may seem overwhelming — at times, a defeat so apparently final that we cannot imagine any road back may come into our experience, and we may actually despair.

Yet ultimately, we already know the score. There will be no win for evil, for injustice or for those who mock God. Man is only king for a day.

The Lord is King forever and ever.

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