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First Downs and Field Position

I spent a little time last weekend with one of those kids who every pastor/student minister knows. The one that no matter how hard you try, doesn’t get it. The one that avoids you like the plague. The one that seems to go out of his way to let you know he is cool and you are not. That was Colin. Now, he is an adult in his late 20’s and he never misses a chance in writing, in person, or on Facebook to tell me how powerfully I impacted his life. Fast forward to yesterday. I had coffee with a former student I have not seen but one time in ten years. She is planning to get married and wants me to officiate. It was a great conversation. I was so proud of her and the strong woman she had become.

As we finished up, she told me the phrase that I used back then that had most influenced her life. It was a statement I used often in student ministry. It was, “God is more interested in first downs than field position.” In other words, making progress in the spiritual journey is much more significant than how spiritual you look.

Honestly, it has been a pretty lousy week in Kingdom work. Nothing serious is wrong but I have just been out of sync. I am talking and I am pretty sure God is listening but not much communication is happening. There doesn’t seem to be much “fruit” or lasting impact the last few days.

It is just like God to speak in such a clear and unmistakable way that even I cannot miss it. Here I am ten years later, looking at two young adults, both of whom are living proof that all of us are a work in progress and that God never gives up on us. Both of them have significantly moved the chains in the years since I was interacting with them. It just reminds me that results don’t always look the same to him as they do to us. He takes a much longer view, sometimes, even an eternal view.

So, I am going to just keep on doing what He tells me to do and saying what He tells me to say, and trust Him to keep moving the chains in the lives of those He entrusts to me for a little while. What is your perspective? Do you value the first downs in your life or are you frustrated by your field position? Maybe a little perspective will help.

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