A few weeks ago my pastor did a sermon on hope. He talked about how as Christians we go through tough times and sadness, but we have the hope of heaven. He said something that I had never heard before: for believers earth is the closest they will ever be to Hell, but for non-believers earth is the closest they will ever be to heaven.
It really struck me. People talk about how crappy life can be sometimes. How sadness is just a part of life, but it gets better…but for some people it won’t. For those who don’t have the hope of heaven it only gets worse.
I’m not saying that to scare people into believing in God and my pastor wasn’t either. It’s hard to imagine my life without the hope of Christ, but there are so many people who don’t know that hope.
It got me thinking about all the times in my life where hope and faith have affected the way I react to situations. Admittedly, they were mostly sports related because I love sports.
When I was in the 8th grade I was on a travel soccer team. We were pretty good. We didn’t win every game, but we won most and didn’t lose by much when we did lose, except to this one team. We played them twice and lost 7-0 the first time and 8-0 the second. Then we faced them in a tournament. It was the last game of the tournament and it decided 1st and 2nd place. Before the game my team went to the movies. Facing the Giants had just come out and my coach thought we needed some inspiration.
We went straight from the movie to warm ups and we were excited to play. We made it to half time with the score tied at zero. About 10 minutes into the second half the other team scored. We played that way for the next 20 minutes or so and you could tell we were starting to get discouraged. Then our goalie started yelling, “Stonewall!!” Which was as intense as it sounds since in the movie after yelling that the defense recovered a fumble and won the game (If you haven’t seen it you really should. The acting is horrible, but you get used to it.)
We ended up scoring with two minutes left and the game ended in a tie. We came in second in the tournament since it was based on a point system and they had more points, but you would have thought we came in first we were so happy. We went into that game with hope and faith that we could win even though we had never been close to winning before. I believe part of the reason we tied is because we went into the game with a greater hope than we had the two games before.
I also thought of Auburn football games. I am going to assume you know about the Prayer in Jordan-Hare and the Kick Six plays, so I won’t go into detail. But for both of those plays the players had faith in each other and a hope that they could win. I was there for both games. It was extremely easy to lose hope once Georgia had a 30-point comeback, but then Nick Marshall threw that ball and hoped Ricardo Louis would catch it. The Iron bowl was filled with hope. Crazy plays and hope. Gus Malzahn hoped that the field goal kicker would miss it and Chris Davis could run it back.
I know these last two examples also had a little (maybe a lot) to do with luck. But those players would never have been in the position to make those incredible plays if there was no hope that it could be done.
Every sports fan knows what it is like to have hope. But hoping that a player will catch a ball or win a game is nothing compared to the hope of Jesus.
Hope for your team might get you through a few rough Saturdays, but the hope of heaven is what gets us through life. I can’t imagine going through some of the things I’ve been through without the hope of an eternal life with my Savior.