Monday, February 11, 2008

When the Horse Is Blind

John Madden is my husband's and sons’ favorite network football game commentator. This is a football family, and they know of whom they speak! What makes John Madden so good at what he does is his experience. He has dedicated his life to professional football; first as an NFL player, then as an NFL coach of the Oakland Raiders. Now he entertains fans everywhere with colorful commentary and unsurpassed knowledge in the sport as the game is played.

In the years he coached professional football, John Madden’s players would occasionally question him on what he told them to do. They didn’t see the logic in his instruction. They wanted to know why.

John’s response to a questioning player was always the same: “It doesn’t matter if the horse is blind; keep loading the wagon.”

I love this quote. Aside from its enchanting whimsical quality, there is a nugget of truth in it for the Christian as well. When God instructs us in His Word, whether we understand the logic or wisdom in that instruction is kind of a moot point. We just need to be obedient. There is so much that we cannot understand in God’s purposes and workings in the world. Isaiah tells us His ways are higher than ours. So we need to trust Him at His word. And respond in obedience.

So much of what the world tells us is contradictory to what we read in the Word of God. Therefore, obedience sometimes takes a “rewinding” of the tape which has been prerecorded in the earlier years of our lives. The world tells us: Don’t be a wimp. Stand up for your rights. Sometimes God’s name is even invoked in the world’s wisdom: God helps those who help themselves. But Jesus told us: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:5, 39-44).

We live in a society that prizes ambition and self-made men. The fact is, no one had to train us to think “Me First.” That attitude arises naturally out of our sinful nature. None of us has to struggle to make ourselves our top priority.

Yet Jesus calls us to a different path. When we think of meekness, or putting God and ultimately others before ourselves, we might be tempted to think these commands are asking us to be weak. I don’t know about that! It takes a tremendous strength of character to put aside our own agenda to obey the Lord. This is not instruction for the weak at heart! In fact, it will be impossible for us to obey the commands of God without His assistance.

So He gives us power. Paul wrote the Ephesians that this power is “in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19, 20). We have resurrection power at our disposal! And we will need it, because our obedience will require superhuman strength.

I once heard the kingdom of God referred to as the “Upside Down, Inside Out, Backwards Kingdom.” It is true-- what the world values is oftentimes opposite to God’s heart. So we must turn away from what we thought was truth to the truth of God’s Word.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about “blind faith.” I don’t think there is any such thing. We place our faith in a God we know to be faithful, good, loving, wise, and righteous. There is nothing blind about that! Yet there will be times when He asks us to do what does not make sense to us. When that happens, just keep loading that wagon.

No comments: