Tragedy in the Game of Life

Some would say that the game of football mimics life. Certainly, like the game of football, everyday life has its opponents and challengers, setbacks, scores, injuries, competition, wins and losses.

What happened in the world of football the other day with the murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs was not just a tragedy in professional football, but it is a real tragedy in everyday life. Our prayers are with the two families left with loss and for the young child who lost both parents.

While I know such events are charged with many contributing factors, the questions mount around such a devastating loss of life. What was going on in one man’s personal life that he found no place to decompress? What amount of private pain would be so intense that it would find its way out in such a horrific fashion? Are events like this a sign of a deeper problem? A problem, not just within professional sport, but also within our way of life? Is there anything anyone could have done to help?

We have been stunned repeatedly by explosive acts of violence coming from the unsuspected. From being bullied to deep hidden offense, from school yards to corporate offices tragedies like this have occurred.

Obviously life is not without pain. When in everyday life we encounter colleagues, coworkers, neighbors or family do we remain silent and “tough it out” in private pain, or is there any safe place or are there any safe people out there where one can find release?

Quarterback Brady Quinn, of the Kansas City Chiefs, in an interview said it like this. “When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth? We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us. Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”

Some time ago I was greeted by a fatherly friend with a grin, “How are you doing, you liar?” Shocked by the well meaning question it awakened me to the tendency that most of us, myself included default to that of “appearing to have it all together”.

Maybe the real tragedy in the Game of Life is that we have lost connection with our selves and one another. We choose to be strong and successful rather than risk appearing weak, overwhelmed or having questions but no answers. We are convinced that everyone is doing just fine, so why shouldn’t I?

Let’s be candid and straight with ourselves and about ourselves. No one should have to suffer in silence or alone. Suffering is a part of the human condition. But, hope is the antidote.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” Psalm 42:5

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” Romans 5:5

Here are five suggestions to help you or someone you know to live in hope:

  1. Find something in your life to laugh about! It could be good news or bad news like you’re late for work, the car has a flat, a brilliant sun rise, something you said, or your boss gave you an unexpected raise.
  2. Find someone to laugh with! It could be anyone.
  3. Choose to be candid and open about disappointments by putting it into words. Use your words, you liar! (see above)
  4. Develop friendships with people who accept both the beautiful and the ugly in your life (all of us have both), and who believe the best is yet to come.
  5. Hold to an attitude of abundant anticipation. You are bigger than what happened, and you have a choice in what will happen. Keep looking up and looking forward.

Your life is no game! Your life is precious!

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Authentic vs. Presumptuous

I have been stirred recently by our discovery sessions on the Purpose of the Church. When all the wrappings and packaging is pulled away the real, authentic purpose of the church is changed lives!

Authenticity is the willingness to let go of the person you think you should be. I like that. Authenticity for the church would mean laying aside presumption and be willing to let go of what we think we should be. As individuals if we could be authentic, we’d find less anxiety and stress and more peace, more connection, more ability to love and be loved. We would experience changed at many levels.

Jesus was authentic. He refused to fit into the expectation of those around him. He was who he was. He changed the world. If we would only be as He was we would be doing more of what He did!

Changed lives are the center piece of purpose because changed lives will change the world! The authentic church is here on the earth to be God’s primary change agent. The impact of changed lives is ENORMOUS!

The book of Acts is full of examples. The life of Paul is one of them. His life was changed radically by his encounter with Jesus Christ as he road tripped to Damascus. So enormous was the change in his life that later in the book it was said of Paul and Silas, These are they “who have turned the world upside down.” This wasn’t just hyperbole, it was reality! Great numbers of people followed and their lives were changed. Changed lives change the world!

The key is that life has changed because of Jesus. Authenticity changes churches. Changed churches change lives. Changed lives change the world! And sometimes our role is to initiate, sometimes to facilitate, but always to nurture the change!

Let’s be authentic. The world depends on it!