This Game Called Life
By Pastor Wally Odum
When my wife Gwen and I were living in Australia, we met a lady who grew up in a rural community in Queensland. She was describing what it was like to live in a small town with limited electrical power. She told us that there was a local hospital in town and someone from the hospital regularly called every home in town with an emergency message: “Please turn off your ovens. We are about to operate the X-ray machine.”
Most of us living in America have not experienced that kind of power limitation. When the occasional storm knocks out our power temporarily, I can’t even find the hurricane lamp. Power shortages freeze elevators between floors, leave offices in the dark and stifle public communication (especially for those who get their news by way of television). Thankfully, those shortages usually don’t last long.
When it comes to our spiritual lives we are never in danger of a power shortage. God has given us the Holy Spirit and provided us with all the power we need. The key to successful living lies in our ability to exercise the spiritual power that’s available to us.
A few years ago, Mike Kollin left Auburn University to play professional football for the Miami Dolphins. Shug Jordan, his old coach at Auburn University, called him and asked him to recruit football players from the Miami area for Auburn. “Sure coach,” Mike said, “What kind of players are you looking for?”
“Well, Mike,” said Jordan, “There are guys that you knock them down and they stay down.”
“We don’t want them, do we coach?” said Kollin.
“No!” continued Jordan.
“Then there are guys who you knock them down and they get up. You knock them down and they get up. You knock them down and they get up.”
“We want them, don’t we coach?” responded Mike.
“No, Mike,” said Jordan, “We don’t want them either. Get the guy who’s knocking all these people down. We want him.”
God wants us to be the kind of believers who overcome every obstacle life presents. He wants us to live in freedom and not be held captive by the sin and death around us. The problem is that we are all aware of our weaknesses and limitations. We feel inadequate about our ability to live in that kind of freedom. Something had to be done to make us strong enough to win this game called life.
Paul, in Romans 8, gives us God’s answer to human weakness. God provides the Holy Spirit. Each of us knows the toll sin can take on us, and we only have to drive past a cemetery to know the inevitability of physical death. The good news Paul shares gives us hope: “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)
That’s an amazing statement! As dominating as sin and death seem to be, God has sent, through Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life and the Spirit of life has set us free. Sin and death can’t defeat us. The Holy Spirit is more than a match for both of them. God doesn’t leave me to battle the forces of sin and death on my own. I have already proved they are too much for me. Instead, He has sent the Holy Spirit to set me free. That’s real freedom. I can walk through my life and into eternity knowing that sin and death do not determine my destiny because Jesus has given me the Holy Spirit.
When I was in college we were taught about a phenomenon called Bernoulli’s Principle. Simply stated, it means that as a liquid (including air) moves at a higher speed it develops less pressure than a liquid (including air) moving at a slower speed. An extension of this principle is used for the design of airplane wings. The wing design, aided by the flaps, forces the air flowing over the top of the wing to move faster than the air flowing under the wind. That creates greater pressure under the wing. It is that pressure that lifts the plane.
It is one thing to know this principle theoretically. It is another thing to sit in a 747 as it speeds to the end of the runway. You’re aware that your life depends on old Bernoulli knowing what he was talking about. If the plane doesn’t take off there is a good chance that you will see Jesus immediately.
Some believers understand theories of God’s power. But God wants us to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. We are speeding down the runway of life and sin and death are lurking at the end of the pavement. We don’t have to doubt. Paul knew what he was talking about. The Holy Spirit will give us the lift we need and enable us to soar above the danger.
Paul continues his hope-filled message in Romans 8 with a verse that expresses the unlimited power God gives us. Whether in life or in death, God gives us the power we need to be successful:
“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
The resurrection power of God is living in us. Death can’t defeat us. Sin can’t destroy us—not because we are so powerful, but because His Spirit dwells in us.
God has intervened in our lives so that we can be free from the forces that would weaken and hurt us. I saw a television documentary that depicted a Canadian goose that was in dire straits. Someone had thrown away a plastic six-pack holder and the goose had caught its beak in the discarded item. Because its beak was consequently fastened shut it was unable to eat. Left alone it would have starved to death. A man saw the situation was determined to set the poor goose free. The goose ran away from its rescuer (as we sometimes run away from God), but the man was persistent.
In its flight from the man, the goose reached the middle of a river. It was floating downstream out of reach. The determined pursuer stood on a bridge toward which the goose was floating. He dropped a net from the bridge, capturing the goose, and jumped from the bridge to free the poor bird. In jumping the man broke his leg, but was able to cut away the plastic death trap and set the handicapped bird free to live as it was designed to live.
That’s what Jesus did for us. He came to our rescue at great cost to Himself. In doing so He not only set us free but gave us the Holy Spirit so we could continue to be free. Paul got the message: “The law of the Spirit of life set me free....”
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Pastor Wally Odum is the pastor of OBX Nation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He has been in ministry for over 30 years and loves to share the Gospel. He is passionate about encouraging others to grow in God through sharing scriptures, stories, and personal experiences. © OBX Nation, Wally Odum. Used with permission.
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