RICHLAND, Wash. -- One of the most meaningless statistics in football is the halftime score.
Every fan understands how easy it is to become whipped-up with a false sense of security -- or dragged down by a premature despair -- over the score on the board as the teams head for locker rooms at the close of the first half.
Halftime is just halfway. And halfway is really nowhere in particular.
You can be halfway through a work project, graduate degree or special assignment. That's good, but then, you aren't really there yet, are you?
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Finding yourself midway through physical rehab, or halfway through the reconciliation of a broken marriage can be a highly uncomfortable place to be (something like straddling a fence where your feet don't quite touch the ground). You might very well feel like a loser.
But you could be wrong. You don't really know. You're only halfway. There's a lot of game left.
Remember this: the score at halftime doesn't necessarily predict the finish! Sometimes it isn't even close.
What matters at halftime, in the locker room, are the relationships between the coach and team members, and between the players themselves. Speaking words of counsel, encouragement and exhortation to each other, team members draw from a still untapped reservoir of energy and strength.
It is in this place, and in these moments, that losers become winners.
What about the assignment Jesus has given you? Do you feel like a loser? Does the scoreboard discourage you? Are you going through those halftime blues?
Too often, Christians confuse the priority of what they do with whom they do it. Your task isn't nearly as important as your teacher. Your assignment -- whatever it may be -- cannot compare to your Savior. Your mission dims in the light of your Master.
Sure, it's true that what we do is significant. But in the doing we're bound to make mistakes. We fumble the ball, miss a tackle or a key block, maybe even get confused and run the wrong way for 10 or 20 yards. In short, we blow it!
The relationship with the team and the coach, however, remains intact. After all, this is another experience to learn from, another moment to grow, another opportunity to sharpen the skills and fine-tune the mechanics of the game.
I'm not referring here to players who have left the game, but to those who hang in there after the miserable last play that lost way too many yards. You get my point.
Jesus, the star of our game, explains to us that there is only one way to complete our assignments, down to the last detail. It's our motive for being in the game that matters. Always has been and always will be.
Jesus says our motive must be to glorify the Father. And He did that when he hung on the cross until the period was in place and then cried out, "It is finished."
Now, get back in the game.
* Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network www.globalgatewaynetwork.org with offices in Richland.
Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or firstname.lastname@example.org.