National Championship

Auburn and Oregon. That’s who will play for the National Championship in college football this season. What a great matchup! And what is interesting to me is that I have spoken in both Auburn and Eugene this fall and watched football games with fans from both universities. Since I always wear orange, I was very welcomed in Auburn and a little bit suspect in Eugene (especially since they were playing the Beavers who wear orange). But what fun it was being with a bunch of fans who were seeing their long held dreams come true on the football field.

I love watching football. And I love watching football fans. The enthusiasm and school spirit of these two institutions is extremely appealing and contagious. Not only do these universities have great football teams, but they are also two of the greatest schools when it comes to team spirit. Auburn fans dance like crazy and revel in a War Eagle. Ducks actually quack and make more noise than any other fans in the NCAA. In just seconds when you are with either team you can fit in perfectly—if you root for the right team

What’s this have to do with anything on this blog? This blog is all about hope. And hope is exactly what I saw in these two colleges. They both have great hope that they are going to be national champions. What is hope? I have always defined it as “a joyful anticipation of the future.” It means that you believe that your future is going to be good. And because you believe this, you have a joy in the present.Hope doesn’t always come true. One of these teams won’t be the national champion. But presently they are pumped because of what they anticipate. I’ve never seen a faster team than Oregon. And I’ve never seen a more dominating quarterback than Cam Newton of Auburn. And both are 4th quarter teams. Oregon dominates the end of games. Auburn just doesn’t quit until they win. As a result, neither team’s fans will lose hope until the very end.

It is an important truth that your future viewpoint determines your present state of mind. There is a part of me that wants to say that only certain people can have hope, and others have no hope because their situation is so bad. But you only lose hope when you draw lines too early. You lose hope when you say that your current bad situation is the end and draw a line there. We draw lines too early. And when that line is drawn, we not only lose hope but our present happiness also goes right down the drain with it.

I was in the Jones Clinic in a slum in Kisumu, Kenya. It was built for HIV/AIDS victims. I was struck by the large verse that was on the wall there. It said– “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18).

It seems like you would lose hope if you had AIDS. But that is only true if you draw the line at death. When we anticipate the ultimate end of things, we can face life with a good attitude because in the very end if you have faith–you absolutely win. You only lose hope when you get to the point of thinking that you are not going to win.

How does that play out in football? Well the game is not the ultimate end (although it may feel like it for one team at the conclusion of the BCS matchup).

And you can always say, “Wait until next year!” But that doesn’t make you feel very good either.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12, NIV).

Who will win? It will probably be the one who wins on turnovers. The team who gets the break will probably win with teams this evenly matched. The Message records the proverb this way-“Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around”.

Grace is a good break. You can’t always get one in a football game, but you can in life. That’s why I’m pretty happy about life. I have had some recent losses, but I know there is a break coming. God promises me.  So I will win. And if you know absolutely that you will win, you don’t lose hope.

I hate to see any of my friends who are fans disappointed. But one team will win. But until then some of the wildest and craziest people on earth live in Auburn and Eugene. And they are really happy and full of hope. And I love them for their joyful anticipation of the future.

About Milt

Milton Jones is the President of Christian Relief Fund in Amarillo, Texas. In his work there, he has focused on the care of AIDS orphans in Sub-Sahara Africa. He has also served as a preacher and campus minister in both Texas and Washington. Milton has authored eight books including a touching tale of one of his heroes with Cerebral Palsy, Sundays With Scottie. He is married to Barbie Jones and has two sons, Patrick and Jeremy.
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