Season of Light

The nip in the air and the Labor Day weekend signal a new football season. Hope springs eternal for sports fans. For some it’s a fun game, but others look for a psychological boost from their team’s wins. The new season is their window of hope.

This year, Tim Tebow had a shot at restarting his NFL career as a tight end for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but no. Tebow and Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence have both been outspoken about something unaffected by the football season – their faith. Lawrence said, “I put my identity in what Christ says, who He says I am.”

I recently became aware that basketball standout Stephen Curry is also an outspoken Christian. Curry began his professional career in 2009. He has been named an NBA All-Star seven times and the league MVP, and has won three NBA championships. He said, “I think God has put me in this situation to change this perspective on what it is to be a man of God and a player in the NBA.  I want to uplift His name.  That’s at the forefront of why I play the game.”

What matters most to these men is not an athletic season but a life of walking with the Lord. Because they responded in faith to the gospel of Christ, they see life in the light of God’s sovereignty. That can work for you, too, as life comes at you in seasons. Your children leave childhood behind. You change jobs. Retirees contemplate what is next. Relationships change. Loved ones pass away. You have successes and failures.  But these are only temporary seasons.

Jesus said, “For a little while longer the Light is among you…While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light” (John 12:35-36). He is that Light, and He invites you to embrace this as your season of response. To believe in Him is to join Tebow, Lawrence, and Curry as a son (or daughter) of Light. Seasons come and seasons go, but the season of Light is forever.

Your Ebenezer

God help us. That’s a prayer, not a swear. How often those words escape our lips upon hearing news of Afghanistan, COVID, and American politics. You do remember He already has helped, right? You have to remember that to keep your sanity.

God’s people wanted to remember. In ancient times, God gave them a victory. He sent thunder to confuse their enemy so they could reclaim their cities. Samuel set a symbolic stone near the scene of the victory and named it Ebenezer, which means “rock of help” (1 Sam. 7:12).

One evening when I lived in Haiti, I noticed the reflection of a significant fire nearby. I went outside and saw in the middle of the dirt road a fire consuming household items and various containers. A local voodoo practitioner was burning his occultic paraphernalia. In his advanced age, he embraced faith in Christ. The fire was his public recognition of God’s help. It was his Ebenezer.

The U.S. has its Ebenezer, too. At 555 feet atop the Washington Monument, the highest structure in Washington D.C., an aluminum cap displays the words “Laus Deo,” meaning “praise be to God.” In 1885, Americans reached to the heavens with the moving sentiment. It was their Ebenezer, and ours.

We have a rock of help that is more than symbolic. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He could promise that because as He said, “I and the Father are one” (v30). Jesus shows you a reality that is beyond what you see, beyond what happens today, and beyond the bounds of time. Your response, your Ebenezer, is to present yourself as a holy sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). The beautiful hymn lyrics say, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by Thy great help I’ve come. And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”

Whenever the news makes you want to utter, “God help us!” let it remind you that He already has. Raise your Ebenezer by presenting yourself to God as a living sacrifice, your greatest act of worship.