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Next Play


APR 6, 2024


Everyday Faith

As a baseball coach at Alpena High School, there was a mantra that our coaches used all the time with our players. It was the phrase, “next play.”

I’m not sure if you’re much of a sports fan, but, if you are, one thing you will notice in sports is that some players or teams just don’t seem to have the ability to move on from something that previously occurred. It could have been an error a player made, a blown call by an official, or the fact that the athlete embarrassed himself or herself by striking out.

Their emotions get the best of them, and, instead of moving on to the “next play” and letting the previous play go, they get stuck thinking and talking about what already occurred.

And inevitably, because they are stuck in the past, they can’t move forward effectively.

Thus, the reason as coaches we would constantly tell our players that they had to think about the “next play.”

We trained our players “how to respond” over and over again.

Now, it’s not close to being the same thing, but, after having just celebrated Easter, it does make me think: “What is the appropriate response to the biblical high point of the year?”

For the Christian community, the story of Christ’s resurrection is the reason Christianity exists. Jesus endured the flogging and the beating. He went to the cross on Golgotha and was hung there. He was mocked. He was ridiculed, and that is where his earthly body died.

But that’s the crucifixion. There were many others who were crucified just like that.

But the resurrection from the tomb is what brings the Christian hope.

No one else but Christ can claim to have defeated both death and sin!

That’s exactly what Jesus did when he walked out of the tomb.

If we simply “believe” that Christ was the Messiah, our eternal salvation is secured, and, through God’s grace, we are given a new life whereby we have been set free of our sins and are held in bondage to them no more.

Those concepts are not trivial. They are the life-altering principles of the Christian faith that allow us to move through this life in a completely different manner than if we had never experienced God’s forgiveness.

So how do we respond to that message? How do we move forward? If you will, what’s our “next play” as a believer?

Have you noticed that we are living through an incredibly volatile and noisy time right now? The distractions we are experiencing are real and take up head space.

How do we take the hope of Easter forward into our everyday lives, regardless of whether it’s at home, in our church, or in the community in which we live?

I really can’t tell you what your next move should be. That’s something for you to pray about.

But, in the midst of the storms that we are surrounded by, I can tell you that knowing and understanding God’s word is nothing other than a soothing balm to the soul and provides direction when things might seem rudderless.

God’s word is described in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any doubled-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

That is the kind of wisdom that we all need. It’s sharp. It’s active. It helps us to understand soul and spirit. It helps us to judge thought and attitudes.

Might I simply suggest that a great response to all that Easter brings to us is to commit ourselves to reading God’s word on a regular basis? The God who willingly gave us his son as humanity’s sacrifice for the sin that separated us from him has also given us a map for this life.

Knowing that map and God’s directions in it, I am confident, will have a profound impact on the steps that we take in our days moving forward.

Want to respond in a practical way to the message of Easter?

Let’s commit to reading the Bible as part of our “next play” in our journey of faith.

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