“Please let us win” was the my sum total of my petition to the God who create the universe. I wanted nothing more than to win that little league championship game. I was firmly convinced that second place was for losers. Moreover being a well-trained sinner, I found pregame prayers to be calming.
I am sure that the little two-field complex located at the Little Rock Boys’ and Girls’ Club was hotbed for such game-day prayers. Had there been a sports prayer monitor over the field, I am sure the dugouts would have shown up as bright red as boys and girls pleaded for victory.
Although I have not donned a batter’s helmet, velcroed my Franklin batting gloves, and stepped into the batter’s box in some time, I have no doubt that children all across America on every kind of sporting field are asking God for victory.
I believe we should encourage our kids to pray for victory for little championships and soccer tournaments are ruled by God. Moses reminds us all of God’s ultimately sovereignty in Deuteronomy 32:39 writing,
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I would and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
The God of the Bible is our God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob reigns supreme. God gives success and he sends failure. God gives health and sends sickness. No one can go against his will or frustrate his plans. No little league team can win without his permission. No soccer team can lose without his divine decree. God gave your daughter her first place trophy and ordained for your son to be on the team that never wins a game. Everything that happens in the universe, including our children’s seemingly insignificant games rest firmly in the hands of God. He rules the stars and knows when sparrows die (Matt. 10:29). He raises up kingdom and brings them down. He punishes sinners and mercifully restores them. He creates dynasties and sends sanctions. Thus, we should encourage our kids to pray for victory and to thank God for championship rings.
While we all recognize that our God reigns supreme, we still have to do something about all the rival prayers being tossed up to heaven before kickoff. The great Peyton Manning famously touched on this dilemma when he said,
If the Colts were playing the Cowboys and I prayed for the Colts and Troy Aikman prayed for the Cowboys, wouldn’t that make it a standoff?
Such prayers do not create a standoff. But, they do reveal the divine reality that success on the field has nothing to do with our earthly righteousness.
My beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016 because God was being merciful to me and to generations of players and fans. But the Cubs organization and their fans were not more holy than the fans of the other 31 major league baseball teams in 2016. Ben Zobrist had a great testimony. But there are Christians scatters all throughout the league. Plus some of the Cubs players were not the nicest guys in the world evidenced by their affairs and complaints. The Cubs won because God decided to bless them over the other teams.
I cannot tell you why. Nor can I explain why God made the Cubs slog through a rough patch spanning a 108 years. Our human wants, desires, or impulses do not force God’s hand. He does not tally up the prayers and give victory to them team that talked to him the most. He chooses who wins according to his righteous, just, loving and good character. God does that which brings him the most glory. God ordains the team to win that will bring him the most glory. There is no standoff because God always knows which outcome will bring him the most glory. He always chooses that result.
If God chooses our kids’ team, we should celebrate. But we should celebrate humbly, realizing that all the skills, all the incredible catches, great hits, and must see moments came from above. Neither our kids nor we are inherently better than the kids on the other side of the field. God gave us the victory.
And when we lose, God gives us the loss. He ordains that our kid will strike out, drop the fly ball, and twist his ankle. All things comes from his hand.
I missed this reality as a child. I truly equated God’s favor with the wins and loss column. But God’s favor is not tied to earthly wins. His favor is tied to the cross and salvation. All who have Christ are truly blessed regardless how the championship game goes. God’s divine love is not measured by our sporting goals. His love is measured by the cross.
We should encourage our kids to pray for God to bless their sporting efforts. More importantly, we should encourage our kids to pray that God uses their sporting endeavors to grow their faith. We should help our kids to trust Christ through both victory and defeat, teaching them to humbly depend on God in every circumstance. God ordains our kids perfect game and their ligament tears.
Are you ready to live our Deuteronomy 32:39?