The Sport principle:
Imagine being a child supporter of Manchester United, whose first game at Old Trafford was the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool earlier this season. All your short life, you’d have looked forward to an experience that should have been a happy memory for the rest of your life, but it was forever ruined by that result! Or what about the child Liverpool fan, who couldn’t get a ticket for the game at Old Trafford, but instead turned up to his first Liverpool game at Anfield full of expectation the week after a 2-2 draw with Brighton! How gutting would that be! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Application to life:
How many times have we allowed a bad experience to sour an otherwise memorable and happy day? Sport is just one example of this. Experts tell us that our memories, even happy ones, can be over-ridden by the strength of our feelings. Put another way, our ‘experiencing self’ is stronger than our ‘remembering self.’ So, what does this mean for us? As men of God, we need to get a grip on our feelings and see them in the right perspective. Our feelings are simply ways of us internally processing external stimuli. They are fine in and of themselves, but the difficulty comes when we put too much emphasis on them. The sooner we realise this, the better off we’ll be.
LOVE IS NOT A FEELING!
I wrote that with ‘caps lock’ on deliberately, because although that short sentence is not rocket science, you’d think it was, due to the number of men who over-endorse their feelings at the expense of the truth. Love is a choice, made cold, sober, clinical and daily, nothing more, nothing less. We love our wives and stay faithful to them for the same reason that others engage in adulterous extra-marital affairs – we choose to! Often our language doesn’t help us here. We say: “Oh, I fell in love with her!” Well, if you can fall into love, you can fall out of it, and many of us stumble from relationship to relationship all our lives, believing this lie. As soon as the feelings wear off, and biologists tell us that takes about 9-12 months tops in any relationship, we’re off, suitcases in hand, to find someone else to have feelings with. And the sad thing is, we’ll find someone, and the cycle will happen again. The truth is, love has nothing to do with falling at all. We choose to love our families, whether we feel like it or not. And we don’t always feel like it. Sometimes, we are called to love in spite of (you fill in the blank), not because of (_______). When we get up first thing in a morning, we don’t always feel like we love our wife and kids, but that doesn’t change the fact that we do love them.
This is helpful when we consider the love of God. Jesus’ love for us caused Him to choose the Cross – the most gruesome method of execution human beings have ever dreamed up in their sick minds. Not much gooey sentimentality there. I’m so glad that God’s love for me does not rise and fall with my loveliness to Him. I’m often not very lovely, or lovable at all, yet God’s love is unconditional. Have you ever considered the mind-blowing truth that God knows you completely (every little thing you don’t want anyone to know about, God knows all about it) and He still loves you unconditionally anyway! I’ve long ago settled that when I watch Accrington Stanley or Rochdale Hornets with my son, I’m not going to give those players power over my happiness. I’m determined to enjoy the game, win lose or draw. And we can do the same with every aspect of our lives. Today, we can choose to love because God first chose to love us, and demonstrated His love for us by dying on the Cross for us while we were still lost in our sin.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Image credit: Jeremy Perkins via Unsplash