I’m not much of a sports fan, so when I sit down to catch a game with my husband or head to the ballpark with my two boys I tend to pay attention to anything but the plays. Maybe that’s why I noticed that when things go well, a lot of athletes point up.
I think I understand what they are trying to say. Pointing skyward after a killer play or big score has become a symbol for giving God the glory. I get that they are trying to thank God for giving them the talent and ability to compete. But I notice that no one ever gives God credit when they stumble, fall, or fail. They all seem to be depending on Him to help them succeed. It’s as if He’s their good luck charm.
I’m not an athlete (maybe that’s why I’m not much of a fan), but I’m just as guilty of treating Jesus like a good luck charm. When I want to do well, want things to go my way, or even want to succeed for my own glory, I sometimes run to Him like I would a lucky rabbit’s foot or pre-game ritual. And when life throws me a curveball, I find myself wondering “Where were you on that one Jesus?”
I know I’m not alone. In fact, most of the girls we talked to for Lies Young Women Believe told us that their prayer lives reflect the belief that God should fix their problems. Instead of creating a balanced prayer life that includes praise, thanksgiving, listening, and confession, most of them told us they tend to simply offer God a to-do list. In other words, they count on Him to make things go their way. I recently heard Dannah tell a room full of teenagers that she believes “God should fix my problems” is the biggest lie young women believe. I tend to agree.
I can see how this lie starts to form in our hearts. God does tell us that we can talk to Him about the circumstances of our lives and even gives us permission to ask for things to go our way.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
If it’s okay to pray in every situation, then certainly we can pray for God to change our circumstances. But it is important to keep in mind that God is more interested in changing us to be a reflection of Christ than He is with solving all of our problems. If the chips are down in the game of life, it doesn’t mean that God’s power has worn off; it simply means that in His sovereignty, He has chosen to use difficult circumstances to make us more like Him.
One writer put it this way, “In the Gospels Jesus never seemed too interested in fans. Is that how you define your relationship with Him? An enthusiastic admirer? Close enough to Jesus to get the benefits but not so close to require sacrifice? There’s got to be more than just going to church, praying when in a jam, and volunteering at a shelter (Kyle Idleman on notafan.com).
Maybe Jesus is okay with the fact that I’m not a fan. (I’m not talking about sports anymore.) I know He wants me to move beyond seeing Him as a superhero I give a shout out to every once in a while or a genie I depend on to make sure life goes my way. Yes, He wants me to ask for help with the details of my life, but He also teaches me that He is still in charge and He is still good even when my life isn’t going as I’d like it to.
How about you?
Do you spend most of your prayer time asking God to make you the star of your own life? Do you give Him the glory when things are going great but not when you’re circumstances are tough or your abilities limited? Are you a fan of Jesus who points toward Him when the road is smooth or a follower who adores Him in all circumstances?
Is Jesus your good luck charm or the God you trust in all circumstances?