After 15 years Bobby Carr stepped down from being the head football coach of Edgewood Academy. Edgewood is a high school in the Alabama Independent School Association. When the 44 year old Carr stepped down his football team had amassed a 71 game winning streak. The coach loved the team, but stated it was time for a new challenge.
We love to hear about winning streaks. Even if we are not affiliated with the team, there is something about the ability to string together a series of victories that excites us. I believe our Lord wants the same thing to happen in our spiritual lives. I remember the story of Joshua and the people of Israel as they began their conquest of Canaan. They had a victory at Jericho, a defeat at Ai, a victory at Ai and another defeat with the Gibeonites in chapter 9. But in chapter 10 of Joshua we see God’s people on a winning streak. Enemy nations one after another fell to the sword of Joshua. Joshua 10:42 states: “All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel”. God had given them the land and it was His desire for them to have these victories.
I believe that our precious Lord desires for all of His children to go from victory to victory. He tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (Rom. 8:37). We have the secret weapon of the Holy Spirit indwelling us (1 John 4:4). We are promised that if we resist the Devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7). And we have the promise that God will not allow anything to come into our lives that we cannot handle with His power (1 Cor. 10:13). With all of these spiritual resources at our disposal and with such a wonderful Heavenly Coach, we have the ability to go from victory to victory. However, when we do lose, our Lord is right there encouraging us to get up, get back in the game and start a new winning streak
I knew the way to my brother’s house in rural Indiana. However I thought there might be a closer path so I plugged in the address to my GPS. The voice from the GPS confidently and decisively led me down narrow roads filled with potholes. I couldn’t believe how many twists and turns and gravel roads I took. The path that the GPS led me on may have been the shortest route but it certainly took me much longer to get there. I had to drive through small towns that I never heard of before complete with vehicles up on cinder blocks and animals sleeping in the road. I finally arrived at my brother’s house much later than I had anticipated with my car covered with mud. I told my sister-in-law that the GPS led me on the scenic route.
God has a certain path that He desires for us to follow. He gives us clear directions in His Word on the roads He wants us to take. He leads us away from the ditches of sin and keeps us from the dead ends of wrong behavior. He tells us in Prov. 3:5,6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”. God gives us clear directions not only through His Word but also through the leading of His Holy Spirit. Yet many times we simply shut Him off and choose to take the scenic route. It may be exciting to go that way for a while but we soon find that our desire to go our own way takes us farther off the path that God has for us. It also causes damage to our spiritual lives and we end up covered with the mud of our own stupid decisions.
Have you taken the scenic route lately? Do you find yourself far off the path that God has for you. I am so thankful that our Lord allows His scenic route children to make U turns.
The Indianapolis 500 race is an iconic sporting event that is held on the Sunday before Memorial Day. This year marked the 100th running of this very popular event. It was the largest one day sporting event in history with over 350,000 filling the venue. I watched the racers battle each other as the favorites traded leads on many occasions. The eventual winner of the 500 was a rookie named Alexander Rossi. He is an American who was not expected to win. As a matter of fact the 24-year-old was a 66-1 long shot. Rossi did not win because he had the fastest car or was the most experienced and skilled driver. His win came all because of fuel strategy. While the faster cars pulled into pit row for a final splash of gas he and his team were able to stretch his final tank of fuel 90 miles and ran out of gas right at the checkered flag. He had to be towed to the winners circle.
The winner of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 teaches us that the race is not always to the swift. The writer in Ecclesiastes tells us in 9:12: “I returned and saw under the sun that— the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill…” Sometimes the fastest, the strongest, the smartest, and the most qualified do not end up winning. Sometimes the ones who are just plodding along faithfully doing their best end up ahead. The Bible commends such routine faithfulness. Jesus tells us that the most lavish words we can hear at the end of our race are recorded in Matthew 25:21: “His lord said to him, well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord”.
In the activities of life and in our service to the Lord we are called to faithfully do our best. That cool drink of milk in the winner’s circle is not just for the swift.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation