You Just Gotta Believe!

The Philadelphia Eagles just came back from the dead and made the playoffs, and in so doing they showed us how to participate in our own resurrection (And by the way, Saint Nick lives!)

At one point in this post-Super Bowl, celebration season, the Philadelphia Eagles were a woeful 4-6. They had just lost to the New Orleans Saints 48 -7 and with that loss all expectation for the playoffs was taken away; the season was essentially and technically over. To add insult to injury, our star QB, Carson Wentz, bruised his back and a slew of other injuries ensued; painfully, the Eagles likelihood of making the playoffs went from bad to worse. Faithful Philly fans everywhere thought that the Eagles chances of getting into the Playoffs and defending their crown were slim to none. Or so it seemed.  Then it all turned around.

After losing to the Cowboys 29 – 23 in overtime, the Eagles played their best football of the season and finished on a three game winning streak. After being dead in the water, the Eagles blanked the Redskins 24-0 on the last day of the season and won this must win game on the road to finish 9 -7, earning a Wild Card entry into the playoffs. The Eagles survived mistakes and heartbrakes, and are a living testimony of how to overcome all kinds of adversity.

But to actually get into the playoffs, Philly needed help. And help (from Heaven?) came in the form of the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 Defense.  For the Eagles to make the playoffs this season the Minnesota Vikings had to lose and the Bears had to win. So what happened? The Vikings lost at home to those same Bears 24 – 10. Whew! 

Christianity teaches that death is not final. Not physically or spiritually. The central and cardinal doctrine of Christianity affirms that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. Without the resurrection, the apostle Paul declared, Christian preaching and belief are pointless and meaningless. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we too can experience resurrections. We too can get help from Heaven to turn death into life.

Your situation may seem dead, your marriage may stink the stench of death, your children may have disappeared and departed from you, your finances may have suffered a fatal blow, and even your future may seem listless and lifeless.  But there is always hope. Always.

The Eagles making the playoffs this season just goes to show that sports teach the hope of resurrection. Resurrection is help from above descending live a dove to bring life and love. And even though we may feel or even be dead, we must participate in our own resurrection, because help only comes when we have hope. In games and seasons when it seems as if all hope is lost, teams can speak life and determine they are not facing a dead end, and we can too. It’s not just about being positive; it’s a firm faith and a battleax belief that our lot in life is to overcome every dip and every drop that we may descend into.

The Eagles making the playoffs just goes to prove that it’s not over until it’s over. The Eagles just proved to us once again that all things are possible to those who believe. So be encouraged. It’s not over. On this New Year’s Eve, it’s just beginning.   

A Prince And A Pauper

prince

Music icon Prince played organized, team basketball. That’s right. 5’2” Prince played for both Bryant Junior High and Central H.S. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His H.S. coach said he was an excellent player. Prince also played (musically) the halftime show for Super Bowl  XLI in Miami in 2007. Billboard said it was the best Half Time show ever. But I missed it. I didn’t watch this half time show because I’m not a Prince fan. What a shame. And last year, Prince, a Minnesota Lynx fan, gave the team a concert at his mansion after they won the WNBA Championship.

So here’s to Prince Nelson Rodgers. While I was not a Prince Fan, I can pause and ponder and posit the effect his career had upon the music industry. He was different and dissimilar and divergent. His sudden and shocking death has distinguished him with the likes of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. They each lived kingly and queenly and princely lives as the King of Pop and the Queen of Soul and as  . . . “Prince.” Unfortunately, their departures from this life left us waning why and wondering what could have been if they could have lived a lot or even just a little bit longer.

So, since I was not a Prince fan, I feel that I am a pauper for missing out on his impact and his influence and the impression he left on song and sound and sports and society. We are princes and princesses because of an icon’s life, but we are left paupers if we do not stop for a moment or sit for a spell or at least stall and don a pall with the rest of the music world and reflect and respect and redeem the good that the great music maestros of our day delivered to us.  

The Pain Of Loss

Sul_Trimb_

I just lost my mom. “Loss” is the conventional, politically correct term you use when a loved one or friend passes away. My mom was sick and she died on March 8th, right in the middle of March Madness. So this March, the madness of March was more maddening for me for so many days in so many ways and on so many levels. So that’s why I haven’t been writing or posting for a while.

A loss hurts. A loss burns and bruises and even barks and bites. A loss can break and bend and twist and curve and swerve and nerve your emotions and affections like nothing else can.

For Christians, when someone we know dies, our loved one is not “lost” per se; it’s just that their presence is lost; they’re physically dead and gone to us. And there’s nothing we can do to bring them back. But they’re not lost as if we can’t find them, because we know where they are. However, it’s still a loss of their face and their embrace and their voice and their visits and their laugh and their love.  

While it does not compare — not hardly – the University of Maryland Basketball Team lost. Actually, my team won and lost. They won 27 games, but they lost 9. They began the season 15-1 and finished 14-8, but in March they were 5-3 and they finished the season a woeful 5-6, dating back to that mind bending, nerve numbing, unexplainable, inexplicable loss at lowly Minnesota on February 18th and the home loss to Wisconsin on February 13th.

According to Joshua Needleman of the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student run newspaper, “The sentiment for much of the season was when — not if — the Terps started clicking, they’d be unstoppable. They stormed to a 15-1 start even while working through some kinks.”

“Yet in an odd twist, the Terps didn’t get better or wiser over time — like my mom — or like that bottle of Chardonnay residing untouched in the cellar for years. They slowly fell apart, each loss sapping more and more of the fan base’s confidence. There always seemed to be something going awry, a new question that needed an answer.”

In another excellent article written by Alex Kirshner of the TestudoTimes, Kirshner writes “Maryland’s basketball team existed in a weird space this year. The Terps entered the season as a popular national title pick, and they remained so well into February. Even this March, plenty of people thought they had it in them. In the days leading up to the Terps’ season-ending loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16, I’d come around to expecting Maryland to beat the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed. The Terps had a tantalizing glow about them, even when they weren’t their best.

The Terps wound up winning three times as many games as they lost, finishing 27-9. That’s really good for most programs, and it’s really good for Maryland. The Terps made their first Sweet 16 since 2003, which is quite an achievement. But in the end, why did the season seem so unsuccessful?”

 That’s a question that begs an answer. As with all of the other teams that lost in the NCAA Tournament, we have the hope of next season, and the high expectations of seeing Maryland players go on to the NBA and doing well (but if the underclassmen just came back for one more run!)

With all loses, we must look back, reminisce and recall to mind the mercies of the Lord. We must savor the good and sift through and sift out the bad. My mom was sick — I mean really sick — for the last six months of her life. I watched as she withered away, and the loss of her health and her strength was as hurtful as the loss of her presence.

But the grandkids and my sisters and I have the legacy of her love, many, many, meaningful memories and the wonderful well wishes and the sweet scented sentiments of our family and friends that will carry us till we see her again one day.

Note to Brazil: “It’s Not That Bad, It’s Not That Hard, And It Can Be Fixed”

Cross of Calvary
It’s Not That Bad, It’s Not That Hard, And It Can Be Fixed

It may not seem like it now, but Brazil can get past this horrific, horrendous, hideous and horrible loss. Did I say it was a dreadful and almost unbearable loss? Anyway, the point is that they CAN get past it. The question is “will they?” I say they can get past it because my motto is, “it’s not that bad, it’s not that hard, and it can be fixed.” I offer this motto to the Brazilian soccer team and their rioting fans, as the reports of lawlessness in Brazil in the wake of the 7-1 defeat, I mean drubbing, make it seem like it’s the end of the world as we know it. It’s not.

It may not seem like it now, but your worst loss can become your best victory. Just ask Jesus. Lied on, falsely accused, beat and bludgeoned, lashed and lacerated, punched and pounded, flayed and flogged, Jesus should have been dead long before he even got to the cross. But He endured the cross and despised the shame, and now He sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Talk about a dramatic turnaround!

It may not seem like it now, but what you’re going through is not the end. In spite and despite how bad the loss, it in fact, it can be a new beginning. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection indicated the beginning of a new agreement called the New Covenant; it celebrated the birth of a new organism called the Church, and it demonstrated the dawn of a new order called Kingdom of God. Don’t get me wrong; Jesus’s vicarious death was bad, but for us it was the beginning of something very, very good.

It may not seem like it now, with wars and rumors of wars, with the perilous times and precarious seasons, it just doesn’t seem like things are getting any better. Things are hard, but they don’t have to stay hard. Yes sin abounds, but where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Remember, the more the Egyptians afflicted the children of Israel, the more they multiplied and grew.

It may not seem like things are getting any better now, and in fact at times it seems like things are going from bad to worse, but that’s the irony and the paradox of God. Sin and suffering can be fixed. Our Everlasting Lord can take evil and turn it around for it good; our Sovereign Savior can take wrong and somehow turn it around so that right conquers in the end; and our all and Only Wise God whom Isaiah called Wonderful can take the dark and speak “let there be light.” And guess what? There was light, and for us there will be light in our life, just like there was light in Goshen.

And so I entreat you to adopt my motto: “It’s not that bad, it’s not that hard, and it can be fixed.” Keep saying it until you believe it, and watch God make the crooked straight and the rough plain in your life.