Insights For Young Athletes

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We have a kindergarten religion, an immature faith, if we think God is running the universe by whim rather than law. Then we may wrongly expect God to overlook our wrong choices as a favor. God probably will not but let natural laws and the tragedies inherent in bad values work their normal course. If you are told the right way to do it, and you won't do it, that doesn't go far with God. Somehow people often see themselves as mud puddles of sin God will step over. But their karma steps in their puddle. That is because the everyday universe turns on an axis of laws.

The material world is set up on physical laws. Science shows you this. Nothing wrong in science showing you this. But the higher spiritual life of the world is governed by natural laws and revealed spiritual laws. For example, when you drive an auto too fast, you are more likely to have a wreck, because you are under physical law (speed) and violating a moral law by misusing speed (self destructive wrong choice). The consequences of this unfortunate union of the two laws may make it more likely that you, your driving and, perhaps, your mortal life will end in a wreck and a tragedy. But don't blame it on God when you made the wrong choices.

God did not choose to wreck you, so if you wreck, don't blame it on God. You chose to take the chance yourself when you knew the laws and violated them. You made the wrong choices, knowing the laws of earth and the moral laws of heaven. You took a chance, had a wreck, and God was just as sorry as you about it. But don't think God is going to drop down and violate your free will. God respects your free will choices. After all, people choose hell. God does not send them there.

God gives us the free will to make choices. Don't expect God to give you free will one minute, then take it away the next minute. Is your childish concept of God that of an" Indian giver"? Why, you are certainly old enough to realize you have free will. So you should make wise choices. Now in making unwise choices, you may be foolish. Be fair to God. It is very hard for God to help a fool. That is why the Apostle, Paul, says in Ephesians 5:15 "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but wise." God created an orderly world of laws and choices. Since the world has rules and laws and choices to make about them, then you should try to proceed wisely, feeling out your way.

Don't say as you shrug that whatever happens to you is the will of God. That is a shrug off. It is you who makes things happen. When you make good choices, God is happy and proud of you. If you make bad choices, God is just as sorry about it as you are or even sorrier since He is wiser.

Yes, I know I lecture you like a father, but I am spiritually your father, as Paul wrote to Timothy. It concerns me that you may not understand the exquisite courtesy of God in respecting our free will. God allows us free will. He respects our right to use our free will. It is a wonderful Courtesy that constrains God so that He can love us but respect and not interfere in free will decisions. His patience is strained greatly sometimes as He respects our free will to make foolish decisions. And if you misuse your free will badly, God tries to be as gracious as He can about your misuse of it. But don't blame God for the bad situations you get into and possibly destroy yourself by.

You must be aware always God has given us free will. He restrains Himself out of love and hope as we use it. Sometimes He grits His teeth when He sees us misusing it. For we can use free will wisely but we can also abuse free will badly. Yet no matter what happens, remember that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:35)

Do not have a kindergarten idea about God that He is going to move in to controvert your actions regardless of your free will decisions and the existence of physical law, natural law and divine laws! Most of the time, when what the scriptures often term "judgment" happens to people, the judgment comes, not from God but their own bad choices.

The Apostle warns us, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap." (Galatians 6:7)     By God, the Apostle means the laws God honors apply to us. God has established laws to order the universe, laws that will not be mocked or disregarded. They kick in sooner or later. For we create our own judgments.

Know, then, that God does not send judgments on personal whim.    That is childish religion. You make your own judgment yourselves, creating that judgment through the interactions of the violations of the different levels of law made for the ordering of this universe.                Or frustrating grace. This is why scripture fairly cautions us "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12)

Often we do not fully realize how self-bound God is by His own goodness. He has to respect what we do and our right to do it. This places a heavy responsibility on us. We cannot fairly expect God to revoke the free will today that He gave us yesterday. We may not fairly ask God to controvert and contravene the laws He has established for the good ordering of us all. We are given free will to respect them.    The ironic and exquisite courtesy with which God respects our free will is an awesome thing.

So when you make a mistake, do not expect God to change it. The milk is spilled. But you can expect God to reweave the pattern, rethink the problem, change directions, illuminate another day, cut out a fresh path. As we make mistakes, God picks up the pieces. He starts anew, ever fresh and creative in His unending benevolence. Great is His faithfulness. (Psalm 89:1)

The following insight may help you as young people, but it oversimplifies badly. Please tolerate the ignorant over-simplification in the analogy by your humble servant in the Gospel, but my view is that it is better to have you understand some things badly rather than leave you confused by everything. And did I go deeper, it would only work to make your understanding weaker.

The Good Coach

Let us say God is the Wise Coach of a team. He has before the game agreed upon the rules of the game for the common good of all. Now the Coach cannot go directly onto the field. But the team members, the instruments of his will and purpose, can. If one of the players stumbles, or grumbles, the coach can send in another player to help. But the coach has to work through his players.

The coach is constantly rethinking the game, redirecting the game, changing his methods and strategies according to the actions in the game. The Coach directs indirectly: here, there, everywhere. But if things look bad, the Coach certainly cannot stop the game, pass a miracle, and end the game with an uproar, though possibly technically he could. But that would not work for various obvious reasons.           Yet though things are bad, the coach knows he can win. Just wait.

The good coach knows he will win. He knows he can make his team into a successful team that will be victorious. Their winning will reflect to the team's glory and his greatness. as a coach. In making the members of his team a successful team, it will develop the quality of their lives, and their characters. The coach knows this. And the teams knows they are fortunate to have a very good coach.

Such does not completely but somewhat parallels the circumstances of God. He works indirectly through those working directly. He is working to gain a purpose for He does have a purpose. (Ephesians 3:11)         He also has foreknowledge (Romans 8:29; Acts 2:23). He knows what He is about. The players know, though not seen on the field, the Coach's mind is working to guide them. They are infected by His Spirit. They will "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)

I say plainly at various times I have glimpsed the indirect direction of God through interventions by people who have been the ironical instruments of His sovereign grace. This is what we are called to be. Things cannot be just left to God. God is a Spirit that may rest upon us. (Isaiah 11:2). He calls us. (II Peter 1:10) The Spirit wants and uses our visibility. He calls us to Him. An invisible director, God wants us as visible instruments of His directing Will. This is similar to the way players in a game are directed by a coach.

I have seen this, have you not seen it too? People are sent as instruments of God. Having being sent on a mission by God, they are fiercely engaged, not lightly giving up easily. But, younger ones, do not forget that he who learns to rule his spirit as an individual is better than he who wins a victory. (Proverbs 16:32) It is through learning            self-control that we can be controlled. When we are capable of being controlled, we can be called, because then, in control and called, we are ready to be used by God for the advancement of a Mysterious Kingdom.

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Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.