The Game of Life and One-on-One with God
Excerpts from the Roadmap series
Thankfully we don’t go through life alone. We each have a network of people who we depend on throughout our lives. As babies, we are 100% dependent on our parents. We are incapable of doing anything for ourselves, except absorbing the information that’s flooding our senses in this new and wonderful thing called “life.” Soon we are walking and beginning to talk, touting a personality, and the works.
As we get a little older, many of us can probably remember the time we came home from school with our head held high, running up to Mom or Dad with our report card in hand, proudly displaying our good grades. Or how about that special art project we made to express our love for them. We felt deep satisfaction as it was proudly displayed on the refrigerator or in a special location, along with our other “masterpieces.” In this way we start to discover the joy that being accepted and appreciated brings.
Even though age, maturity, and life experiences might change our approach to life or cause us to adopt a more subtle approach to our childhood quest for acceptance and appreciation, nonetheless the universal need for supportive and accepting frameworks continues throughout our lives. Everyday life surrounds us with those who we depend on.
It is impossible to live without these interdependencies. When we’re young, it’s our parents; then as we get older, we depend on peers, mentors, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends. Then as adults, it’s often our spouse, boss, and coworkers that we depend on.
We strive to please our loved ones and family, as well as to earn the respect and admiration of our peers and mentors. And last but not least, we also consider those who look up to us and try to pattern their lives after us. As a result, we do what we can to be a good role model for them so that our influence enriches their lives and proves to be a wise investment of their emotional currency.
Rarely, if ever, do we come to a point in our lives where we are not surrounded by myriad influences affecting us and our decisions, or a time when our actions are not affecting others. Like it or not, our lives are intertwined.
Life is a team sport. And so we all have influence. We go through life as a team. It’s a given that those we are closest to have a greater influence on us, and vice versa. You can find quite a few articles that refer to playing the game of life as a team, and those authors, not to mention just plain common sense, will tell you that the better you are at being a team player, generally speaking, the more successful you will be.
As you age, your sphere of influence increases. More members are added to your life team, whether it’s your spouse, children, friends or associates who mean a lot to you. Your decisions often carry more weight and have a bigger impact. Others depend on you to have good judgment. On top of that, by this time many decisions in your life are not just yours alone to make; you often share the responsibility to make wise, careful, prudent decisions with others who are affected by those decisions. The team sport of life has become more complex, and often continues to grow in complexity as you journey through life.
Okay, that all makes sense, right? But the interesting thing is that while life is a team sport, there is one arena where the game is played one-on-one, and that arena is our individual relationship with God. When it comes to our being true to our personal calling and relationship with God, we cannot hand the ball off to someone else and ask them to carry it for us or “make the shot” or “score the goal” for us.
When the game clock runs out, I will stand as an individual and have to give account for myself and my actions to the God of heaven. That moment will just be between God and me. Dad and Mom won’t be there to defend me, my spouse won’t be there to explain to the Almighty why I did what I did, nor will I have the assistance of my friends or close colleagues. I personally will stand before the Lord as an individual; I will give account to Him of my life, my choices, and my actions.
As Peter Amsterdam said: “Irrespective of what others are or aren’t doing, the important thing is that you’re doing what you know in your heart to be right before the Lord, that you’re pleasing Him, loving Him and others, living your faith and morals, doing what you can to bring others to a knowledge of Him and a relationship with Him, and bearing fruit.”
Sometimes it’s difficult to do what we know to be right, and to be true to our convictions on a matter. While this might be challenging at times, the wonderful thing is that not only has God given us the ability to win in this game when He gave us the gift of free will, but He wants us to win! God is not playing against us; we are on the same team! We can always depend on God to help us make good choices.
When the whistle blows, when we stand before the Lord at the end of our lives, there will be a time of careful review of our choices, our works or actions—the ones that mattered and the ones that didn’t. When that time comes, we will not stand before the Lord as a team, or as a collective group, or as part of a church or religious movement—we will each stand alone. This is the finish line we must always keep in our mind’s eye as we run the race of life.
At first it may sound like a confusing paradox that while life is a team sport, at the end we each stand before the Lord alone. But that is the truth. We are each evaluated not according to what others did or the decisions they made, or even how well our team scored, but by our individual decisions and what we each did or did not do.
The Lord is the master scorekeeper. He sees all the decisions we make, and how each one affects our life, as well as how those decisions affect the lives of those around us, and how we enrich others’ lives. He also sees our personal faith in Him, our desire to please and obey Him, and our conviction to tell others about Him and to show unselfish love and care for others.
You might be thinking, “If life is a team sport, yet in the end I’m going to stand before the Lord solo, just Him and me, then what am I supposed to do to be a good team player, but also to score well when playing one-on-one?”
Well, the winning game plan is this: to make the choices in life that will stand the test of time.
Sometimes you face a choice or have to make a decision which is easy to make, and your family and friends agree with you. However, there are also times in life when you are faced with decisions or what you might even feel is a call from God in your life, when you know He is asking you to do something for Him that will hold great worth when the game clock stops ticking, but which might be a very difficult decision for you.
At that time it helps to remember, that’s when it’s one-on-one with God. It’s just you and Him on that court, and the decisions you make for Him and His will for your life will be the same decisions that will be applauded and rewarded at trophy time, and all heaven will glory in your reward for making good decisions based on God’s Word and His leading. Then you will have God’s approval—and that’s the ultimate approval to strive for.
He is the one who you want to hand your humble work of art to and see Him post it for all of heaven to see in His display of “masterpieces,” which are eternal and will endure forever. That is the greatest hall of fame.
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