Thursday, February 02, 2006
The Way Things Should Be
I received the above book as a Christmas present this year. Well, not exactly that book, but the 2005 edition. (I don't think the 2006 edition will be available for months yet.) This is an annual publication where some guy named Andy Benoit provides an analysis of the previous NFL season and an overview of the season to come. Included in the individual team profiles are predictions of what will happen with each team during the year. I wanted to share a few of these since we're coming up on the Super Bowl this weekend.
The Pittsburgh Steelers - Predicted to finish 3rd of 4 teams in their division. "Ben Roethlisberger [Steelers quarterback] is already one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL, but that will not be enough for this team to match their success from a year ago."
The Seattle Seahawks - Predicted to finish 3rd of 4 teams in their division. "This team will fail to reach the playoffs in '05, prompting the removal of head coach Mike Holmgren."
The Philadelphia Eagles - Predicted to finish 1st of 4 teams in their division. "The Terrell Owens mess will work itself out... because the Eagles are not going to play games with this perverse receiver."
The Minnesota Vikings - Predicted to finish 1st of 4 teams in their division. "With [receiver Randy] Moss gone, the offense will not miss a beat."
You get the idea. The Steelers and Seahawks are set to battle for the championship of the league, the Eagles messing with Owens ruined their season and the Vikings offense was just plain horrible aside from a few games late in the season. To be fair, Benoit made some predictions which did come true, but then again so did I. Let's be honest though... things don't always turn out the way we expect.
There is a scene in the movie Shrek where the ogre goes to rescue Princess Fiona who is being held captive in a far-off castle guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. Shrek is just trying to get the rescue over with, but Fiona has been dreaming about how this whole rescue is supposed to take place. Her knight is supposed to kiss her -- the first kiss of true love. He is to sweep her off her feet. And he must be a handsome prince. Yet all her expectations fail. She is rescued by an ogre, who not only wants nothing to do with love, he is also put off by the Princess' attitude. Fiona's angry cries of "This isn't the way it's supposed to be!" only echo off the mountains.
I know that I can get in the mindset of thinking that "this isn't the way it's supposed to be," also. "Our church should be growing faster. My hair shouldn't be falling out. That friend should have accepted Christ by now. My buddy should still be alive." The "should" word is stated as if I alone know the only right way. Certainly I, in my somewhat infinite wisdom, know what is best, right?
While reading through Genesis, I couldn't help being struck again by the promise God made to Abram in chapter 12. What must the old man have thought about God telling him he would be the father of countless descendants? A man in his eighties and a wife almost as old with no children? But Abram had faith in God. And he waited. Still no baby. Not even one. I imagine him staring at Sarai, asking, "Well? Anything yet?"
Eventually Abram and Sarai got tired of waiting for things to happen like they should, so they got Hagar involved and began a mess that makes the Terrell Owens situation look like a company picnic. The couple thought they knew how it should be, so they decided to help God along in the situation. Bad idea.
One of the best things about seeing God answer prayer is watching how He does it. Most times it happens in ways that we don't expect. But the problem isn't with God fulfilling His promises incorrectly, it's in our small, limited view of what God is supposed to do. There are many things which God doesn't let us in on. I often find myself suppressing a snicker while shaking my head, listening to some of these self-proclaimed "Last Days Experts" tell us exactly how and (almost) when Jesus will return. I have my doubts if any of the prophecy experts will have a much better accuracy record than Andy Benoit, the football expert. But we know the results. It's the methods which inspire sayings like, "God works in mysterious ways." Then again, who are we to tell God how to answer our prayers?
"Heavenly Father, give me the strength to trust You -- not only to trust that You will keep Your promises, but also to trust in the methods You use. For You alone are God. I submit my will to Yours."