Counting Down

Calendar with strikethrough crosses fields. Vector ImageAn annual rite of the holiday season is the Christmas countdown. Each year, children count the days to Christmas with an eager expectation, that is only matched by their mothers’ stressful preparation.

Now that Christmas has passed, other countdowns have begun. Some people are counting down the days until the start of the new year, and others have already circled the number 14 on February’s calendar in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

The number 14 is significant to another group of people.  They are counting down the 91 sunrises that stand between them and the start of the baseball season.

When they hear the number 14, they think in terms of a Rose and and a Banks. Pete Rose was a gritty presence on the diamond during his professional career; however, he was given a lifetime ban for committing baseball’s unpardonable sin.

Like Rose, Ernie Banks also wore the number 14, but his legacy remains untarnished. Even though he had not played for over 40 years when he died in 2015, Banks remains a cherished favorite of the Cub’s fans to this day.

Professional athletes know their fans can be rather fickle and their celebrity status is the result of their performance.  If they do not measure up to the expectations of their fan-base, they are quickly booed.

Fortunate for us, this is not the case with God—His love is not performance-based. He will not bench you because you strike-out, but He will toss you another bat, and say, “Ok slugger, give it another try. Focus and remember, you’re the eye of My, and I’ll be in the batter’s box with you; so, swing away (Psalm 17:8).

Fickle or Faithful?

Mario+Cantone+Monty+Hall+Mario+Cantone+Hosts+dpcp3vqC2VFlFrom 1963 to 1977, Let’s Make A Deal was one of the favorite shows on television.  It was hosted by Monty Hall who would offer a deal to contestants.  The contestant would either accept the deal or choose between doors #1, #2, or #3.

Throughout each day of your life, you make several choices.  Some of these are minor, and others can be life-changing.  The power and potential of choices have been the subject of many people, including:

  • Michel J. Fox: I have no choice about whether or not I have Parkinson’s. I have nothing but choices about how I react to it. In those choices, there’s freedom to do a lot of things in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise found myself in.
  • Buddy Hackett: As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
  • Harvey Mackay: When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.

When you read John’s third epistle, you see the names of 3 men listed.  If you had to make the choice to pattern your life after one of these men, which would it be? Which door would you choose:

  • Door #1: Gaius
  • Door #2: Diotrephes
  • Door #3: Demetrius

Door #1 is a wise choice because Gaius was commended by John for his spiritual maturity.  Gaius tried to walk in the footsteps of John, and he had most likely read the words of Paul: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).”

Door #2 is a different story.  John described Diotrephes as a person “who loves to be first, and will have nothing to do with us.” Diotrephes has been described as a man who loved being the center of attention and one who wanted to control the decisions

Paul addressed this same issue when he wrote to the church at Rome:  “Because of the grace allotted to me, I can respectfully tell you not to think of yourselves as being more important than you are; devote your minds to sound judgment since God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:13).”

Door #4 is also a great choice.  John thought highly of Demetrius, and he said that, “Demetrius has a good reputation with everyone we know. The truth stands on his side, and we add our unreserved recommendation to the long list of accounts on his behalf. You can rest assured that we are telling the truth.”

Through which door will you walk?  It might determine whether you live a life that is fickle or faithful.  As you think about this question, give some thought to these words from Romans 16:

I am pleading with all of you, brothers and sisters, to keep up your guard against anyone who is causing conflicts and enticing others with teachings contrary to what you have already learned. If there are people like that in your churches, stay away from them.  These kinds of people are not truly serving our Lord; they have devoted their lives to satisfying their own appetites. With smooth talking and a well-rehearsed blessing, they lead a lot of unsuspecting people down the wrong path.  The stories about the way you are living in obedience to God have traveled to all the churches. So celebrate your faithfulness to God that is being displayed in your lives—seek wisdom about the good life, and remain innocent when it comes to evil

Fickle or faithful: What is being displayed in your life?