Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
In the lead up to the College Football Playoff National Championship, I have read a few articles about tonight’s game. More than once, the players and coaches have talked about the need to “trust the process.” That idea applies to the entire program, to the season, to preparing for every game including this last one, to both sides of the ball, down to the individual player’s preparation for this game. “The process” is comprised of every fundamental principle intended to bring about the highest success. There will be trying moments and setbacks, even failures. But when the tendency to doubt is the greatest, it is then that you most need to “trust the process.”
They say that athletics are a metaphor for life. The inspired apostle Paul thought so. Long before Nick Saban or Kirby Smart and their players used the mantra, the first-century native of Tarsus was teaching the idea in the Bible. Here is how he put it, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops” (2 Tim. 2:3-6). No, he does not say, “Trust the process.” He gives it instead: Endure, focus, follow the rules, and work hard. Just as coaches use metaphors, making comparisons to chopping wood, flying the plane, rowing the boat, etc., Paul refers to the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer to illustrate principles in the process of living the Christian life.
Our goal is the enjoy ultimate success. The Bible defines that as overcoming the world (Jn. 16:33; 1 Jn. 4:4; 5:4; Re. 2:7,11,17, etc.). There are times this is very difficult, but at all times we must “trust the process.” Trust the process…
- When you are encountering various trials (Js. 1:2ff).
- When you are aiming at church growth (Acts 2:42-47).
- When you are combatting temptation (Js. 4:7-8).
- When you are offended or have offended (Mt. 5:23-24; 18:15-17).
- When you are trying to win back a fallen brother (Gal. 6:1-2).
- When you are seeking to follow Jesus (Lk. 9:23-26).
- When you are working on your marriage (Eph. 5:22-33).
- When you are running the marathon of childrearing (Eph. 6:1-4; Dt. 6:4-9).
- When you are building your relationship with God (Ps. 1; Col. 3:1ff).
- When you are shepherding the flock (1 Pt. 5:1-4; Acts 20:28).
- When you are dealing with prosperity (1 Ti. 6:17-19) or poverty (Js. 1:9-12).
- When you are struggling with sins of the tongue (Js. 3:1-12).
- When you are wondering if it’s worth it to keep going (2 Tim. 4:1-8).
- When you are being persecuted for your faith or for no good reason at all (Mt. 5:38-48).
In other words, whatever our specific struggle, problem, difficulty, or trial, God has given us a proven process. How many, through the ages, have overcome and won simply because they trusted it? As a loyal, long-suffering fan of the guys in red and black, I am hoping their overall process ends a 41-year drought. If it doesn’t, life will go on. As you follow Jesus, I am hoping that by trusting the process found throughout Scripture you win the crown of eternal life (Js. 1:12). When all is said and done, that is all that matters!