The more we seek God, the more He will reveal Himself in everything around us. I recently read Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth century classic about being aware of God’s presence all of the time. As I pondered this concept, I realized that I feel God’s presence so real and close in my quiet time each morning; but honestly, by noon I’m so caught up in school and my schedule, that my heart is not quite so in tune with the Lord any longer. Like Brother Lawrence, I want that to change.
So, I’ve been asking God to show me Himself throughout the day and speak to me through even the mundane and ordinariness of life. This past Saturday was one of those days.
My husband and I went to a football game at the University of North Carolina. We are huge Tarheel fans, but I am more of a basketball girl. Football just seems too slow to me. So as the game began, I really wasn’t all that interested. I watched the cheerleaders, met some of the fans around me, and counted how many tuba players were in the band. (Twelve.)
I got a little more interested in what was going on when a man got into an argument with a couple a few rows down. I couldn’t really tell what they were fighting about–something about the seats–but the couple left the stands with a parting gesture.
I began to ask the Lord to speak to me and show me what was going on around me. I watched the people and thought about how “into” the game they were. When the Tarheels scored, they cheered and high-fived everyone around them. When they fumbled the ball or the quarterback got sacked, the fans would get mad and yell. When the other team would score and we would continue to trail behind, a feeling of despair would settle over the crowd.
The more we faced bad calls, penalties, and loss of yards, the more depressed the fans became. Some sat with their heads in their hands; some argued with their companions about what the coach should be doing; and many just became engrossed in their cell phones.
We trailed behind the Pittsburg Panthers the entire game, so by the start of the fourth quarter, many of the fans packed up their stadium seats and empty popcorn boxes and departed to beat the traffic. I sort of didn’t blame them. I know how long it takes to get out of the parking lot. We hadn’t been able to gain a lead, and the chances of victory seemed pretty slim.
As the fourth quarter began, the score was 36-23. My husband (a do or die fan who never gives up on his Heels) said, “Those people who left are gonna regret it because we’re gonna come back and win 37-36.” I said, “Yep, probably. It’s never too late” (thinking to self, “I sure hate to see him disappointed tonight).
Then I began to talk to the Lord. I told Him that I know He couldn’t care less who wins a football game, but I wanted to see if He would show me in the natural what He will do in the supernatural. I asked the Lord to make Himself known to me during that game and use it to teach me what victory really means.
With around eleven minutes left in the fourth quarter, we had gained only a few yards in the last few plays, bringing on more discouragement. With five and a half minutes left, we moved the ball down the field quickly and scored a touchdown, bringing the game to 36-30. Hope began to soar. Pittsburg kicked the ball off, but we stopped them and got the ball back with only a couple of minutes left in the game. The fans renewed their fervor. The stadium became a roar of 50,000 blue and white fans.
On the last drive, the Heels converted on fourth down three times, keeping the ball in play. We used all of our time outs on that drive until we were at the four yard line with 13 seconds on the clock, stopping the clock. After a successful passing game, our offense switched things up and ran the ball and were tackled on the two yard line with the clock still running. With only five seconds on the clock, they scrambled to make one last play. The quarterback threw a pass into the endzone and scored a touchdown with only two seconds on the clock!
The kick was good, and the clock moved to 00:00 with a 37-36 victory in the books for North Carolina. The Lord began to speak as I stood there stunned. He said, “Many times in life, it feels as if the enemy is winning and hope seems distant. All you can see is the loss and injustice around. You can’t be stressed and upset over the enemy’s tactics or unfair advantage. You can’t allow fear or anger to control you or your relationships with others. You can’t give up and go home. Instead, I want you to endure like those men on the field, fighting until the last second. Because no matter how far behind you seem or how hard and tiring the fight is, the victory is sure. It may come in the last second, but it will come. Because you are on the winning side.”
I have to tell you that I stood there in tears at what God had done. Believe what you want, but God answered my prayer and brought a last-second miracle just because I asked Him to. I wasn’t praying for a win. I was just praying that He would show me Himself. I looked around and my husband was hugging people we didn’t know. A big man in front of me was doing a little dance. The celebration was fun, but it was only enjoyed by those who stayed until the end.
I stood there and thought, “This is what heaven will be like: rejoicing and celebrating the ultimate victory of the ages, for the Lamb has overcome! We will dance and sing and shout because all of our trials and struggles here on earth will be worth it.”
God gave me a beautiful glimpse of His absolute sovereignty and glory that day. He’s in everything, whispering and teaching us His truth if we are willing to listen.
I don’t know how many seconds are still on the clock, but I do know this: the victory is sure.
And I intend to stay in the game.