Team Strategy

football-1053509_1920-323x215.jpgBefore the summer season winds down and the anticipation of beautiful colored leaves, crisp apples and the resultant apple edibles, and a cooler weather pattern come into being, a quintessential American activity begins. By August, many people engage in supporting their favorite teams that compete in the rough and tumble sport of football. Expectations are high as fans from cities and areas all over the country believe that it will be their team that will make it to the ultimate competition, The Super Bowl.
The pre-season is designed for coaches to assemble their teams from prior players and new draftees to compete for the final fifty-three-man roster. Something that really caught my attention this year is how the coaches play their tried-and-true players compared to those with whom they are not yet familiar. It is quite common for the veteran players to sit on the sidelines while the newbies take the field for the majority of these pre-season games. Along with evaluating the capabilities of the unfamiliar lot, keeping the vets off the field prevents a known valuable team member from risking injury in a game that will not count toward the team’s season record. In the regular season, the stars take the field often to ensure wins when they really count.
God’s team strategy can be a bit different. In God’s Word we find that many times it was the unknown draftee that God put in for a big win. Gideon comes to mind. While he threshed his wheat in a winepress to hide it from Israel’s oppressors, the Midianites, God had his angel greet him as if he were a prized warrior. “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.’” (Judges 6:12, ESV). Gideon questioned why Israel was enduring such hardship if God’s presence was with them, but the angel of the LORD continued. “‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’” (Judges 6:14b, ESV). Though Gideon still couldn’t believe the call God had placed on him, and he requested a sign to confirm the words spoken to him, Gideon did follow through with God’s plan, and victory was afforded Israel in a miraculous way, Gideon leading the charge with a very small number of men.
Another example is young David. After Saul proved to be a regrettable choice as king because of his disobedience to the LORD’s commands, Samuel, God’s prophet, was sent to Jesse the Bethlehemite to anoint Israel’s next king. All of Jesse’s sons came before Samuel beginning with the eldest, and they looked strong, handsome, and capable of excellent leadership. But God told Samuel his method of choosing members of his team. As Samuel looked on Jesse’s first son, Eliab, he thought that he must be God’s choice. “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV). It wasn’t until David, the youngest son, was brought from the fields where he was tending sheep that God said to Samuel, “‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he.’” (1 Samuel 16:12d, ESV).
And God does not spare his MVPs from injury and hardship. When God had a conversation with his disciple Ananias of Damascus regarding the Apostle Paul’s conversion to Christianity, Ananias was hesitant to include him in the rank and file of God’s chosen due to his ardent persecution of those in the Body. While the Lord assured Ananias that he was choosing Paul to be his witness to both Israel and to the Gentile nations, interestingly he included this statement: “‘For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’” (Acts 9:16, ESV). Ananias obeyed God, laid hands on him, and prayed to expel the blindness Paul experienced in his encounter with Jesus, and Paul started his active participation on God’s team to become who some consider God’s greatest apostle. Indeed, he did suffer for the cause of Christ, and through his letters found in the New Testament, he has remained influential in the lives of believers throughout the ages.
Essentially, those of us who have a relationship with Jesus are on his team to do his will and further his kingdom. Whether our call is to be on the field for every big play, or we are put in for what seems like minor movement, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ESV). Even our small contribution can be much in his hands, and we can propel God’s team to victory in his Name!
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