There’s great joy in winning. But when all is said and done, it’s far more important to be a winner than to win. That’s because being a winner is about who you are, not the outcome of what you do. You are a winner when you live your life in the palm of God’s hand. You are a winner when you make a commitment to something bigger than yourself. You are a winner when you are tough enough to deal with anything life hands you. You are a winner when you live with compassion, joy and hope. So when everyone else is talking about wins and losses, remember that God has created you to be a winner every moment of every day.
Life is always interesting, often fascinating and at times eerily unbelievable, and I have the feeling we have entered the ‘unbelievable zone’. Arkansas recently enacted legislation allowing the carrying of concealed handguns in a wide variety of venues – including certain athletic venues and all churches, unless congregations prohibit them. But suddenly a huge outcry has arisen to reverse that portion of the bill allowing the carrying of concealed handguns in athletic venues because of pushback from the SEC and the potential long-term negative impact on college athletics throughout the state. This call to change the law makes sense and should be heeded for many good reasons; particularly its negative impact on the common good. I must admit, however, that I am perplexed that these same people have shown little to no interest in thinking about the potential impact of concealed handguns in other venues in which they are allowed. Perhaps more importantly, it reminds me that not a single one of us (starting with me) is exempt from falling into the trap of getting energized only about those things that seem to negatively impact what matters most to us. But embedded in this reality is also a wonderful opportunity. It offers those of us who follow Jesus the chance to step forward and show just what it means to engage complex issues involving the common good. The question, however, is whether we will take this opportunity to do it.
Television hosts make jokes at the expense of others. News analysts make their living by pointing out the weaknesses of leaders and politicians. Sports commentators dissect players’ performances, often with great smugness. Social media users attack others 24/7 from the safety of their devices. It takes a heavy toll, creating a culture of negativity that dehumanizes the very human beings for whom God sent Jesus to save, heal and redeem. So what if you were to start changing things right now in a very concrete way? You can. Simply pray for someone every time you say something negative about them. It will make a huge difference – for that person, for God and for you.
Saying “Thank you” changes your relationship with others because it causes you to see them in new ways, bonds you more closely and makes you appreciate them more. Likewise, saying “Thank You” to God changes your relationship with God. It allows you to see God as the One who loves you unconditionally. Draws you closer to God because it breaks down barriers you erect. And enables you to love God more since thanking morphs into giving God glory and praise. So start saying “Thank You” to God today. Not because you’re supposed to, but simply because it opens up a whole new life.
There are days – and this may be one of them – that are horrible from the moment you wake up. You’re tired. Grumpy. Your body hurts. You feel unloved. You don’t see how you’re going to get everything done you need to get done. And you even wonder whether God’s abandoned you. That’s when you need to cling to the fact that God’s love for you isn’t based on how you feel. God loves you passionately, is reaching out to you, is going to be with you and wants to take your horrible day and turn it into a day when you are blessed in order to be blessing.