I Am Not Going to Be a Professional Athlete
Okay, so the title of this article may shock some of you. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? I’m 54 years old and I have given up on the idea of playing any kind of sport professionally. My childhood dreams of playing major league baseball or being on the PGA golf tour are over. It’s not going to happen. I’m crushed, heartbroken, devastated. My failure is consuming me. I can think of nothing else. My life is worthless now because there’s one thing missing from my life.
Now it’s time for a confession. The part about my not becoming a professional athlete is true. It’s not going to happen. The part about me obsessing over it is not true though. Frankly, I don’t even really give it much thought. I included that part in the paragraph because I wanted to illustrate a point. So often we allow one negative to invade our thoughts and crowd out all of the positives. Not only is this damaging, it is absurd.
I Kings 18 describes the tremendous victory that God wrought through Elijah over the false prophets of the land. Seeing the great power of God, the Israelites ceased their spiritual wavering and committed themselves to the one true God. I Kings 18:39 says that the Israelites “fell on their faces and said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” Is there any preacher who would NOT like to see thousands of people at once respond in such a way to his deliverance of God’s message? People turned back to God. False teachers were stopped. The drought that had burdened the land for three and a half years came to an end. What a powerfully positive moment!
As I Kings 19 opens we read of queen Jezebel’s vow to kill Elijah. Hearing of the vow, Elijah ran away and basically gave up. According to verse three he fled for his life, but his ensuing despondency was based more on the belief that he had failed than on fear for his safety. He allowed one person to control him. He allowed one opponent to cause him to forget the great events of recent days. In his mind, his life was over. Thankfully, God saw it differently and convinced Elijah to press on. Elijah’s life continued with more victories, ultimately concluding with him leaving this earth without having to cross death’s threshold (II Kings 2:11).
How much time do we waste focusing on one negative in our lives? You say that you don’t do that? Let me ask you a couple of questions. Have you ever had a disagreement with someone and then spent hours, if not days, thinking of all the pithy one-liners that you could have said to that person to put him or her into their place? Have you ever let one position, one possession or even one person that you don’t have occupy your thoughts so much that you felt your life would never be complete without that job, that thing or that individual? Let’s go ahead and admit that we have all done this at least once.
Imagine that your mind is real estate. You are the owner of the property. You determine the tenants of your property. You can either lease the space to destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts. You might try to accommodate both but you will soon find out that the destructive tenants are louder and tend to shout down the constructive ones. You and you alone have the authority to decide who occupies the space between your ears so you need take care regarding who or what you allow to live there. That’s all the “property” you own. You’re not going to get any more.
Reading and absorbing the message of the epistle to the Philippians is an excellent way to rein in our thoughts and bring them into subjection. A great deal is said therein about joy (1:4; 2:2,17,18; 4:1), but Paul also wrote of hope (1:20) and peace (4:7). Isn’t it interesting that in the same letter that has much to say about these blessed states of mind, there is also a verse that gives us a list of some positive thoughts with which we can occupy ourselves (Philippians 4:8)?
Are we going to get everything we want in this life? No. Are we going to get everything we need? Yes, according to Matthew 6:33 and other verses that tell us of God’s promises to the faithful. Beyond this life lies another in which the faithful Christian will receive untold blessings in eternity (Revelation 21-22). May each of us learn to be the masters of our thoughts so that we can be as useful as we can be in God’s service.