How Football and Honesty Can Make Us Better
by Gina Welborn
I love football. Most of all, I love my football teams: Oklahoma Sooners and Dallas Cowboys. Through victories, losses, and bad coaches, I've stuck with my teams Now if you aren't a football fan, give me a few paragraphs before you decide to tune me out. Please.
A friend of mine (let's call her Amy) was watching the Big Twelve Championship game with my oldest son and moi. I noticed that Virginia Tech was leading Florida State, so I said, "Go Tech!" Amy immediately responded with "Go Florida State!"
Now this confused me. Why cheer for FSU? She lives in Virginia so naturally one would conclude she would cheer for a state school over some other school four states away. Nope. Not Amy. See, Amy is a HUGE University of Virgina fan. Never mind that neither Amy or any of her family members ever attended UVA. Shoot, I didn't graduate from OU so I understand attendance isn't relevant to fan loyalty.
Anyhoo, I asked Amy why wasn't she cheering for V-Tech because it made more logical sense to me to cheer for a local university. "I don't like Tech" was her answer. Then she told me about the year when UVA was playing Miami. Since UVA didn't qualify for a bowl game, she knew that if Miami won, then V-Tech would lose out on a bowl. Thus, she chose to cheer against her team because their losing would hurt V-Tech.
Being the wise and mature person I am, I smiled and went on my merry way watching the game. Ha!
Instead, I looked at her directly and said, "So your hatred of Tech overrides your love for UVA?"
Obviously she denied hating Tech.
That's when I said, "I just don't understand your reasoning. How can you say you're a fan of UVA yet will choose to root against them if their losing hurts another team's chances for success? Seems to me the motivation at the center of your heart is Hatred...and her twin sister Spite."
Eventually we dropped the discussion and went on our merry way to watch OU beat Nebraska to become the last Big Twelve champion. Boomer Sooner!!!
Later that night as I was going to bed, I got to thinking about the discussion and to mind came a book I was reading. What emotion is the central motivation for my life? Hatred? Jealousy? Am I vindictive? Can I honestly rejoice in the success of another while I bask in defeat? Am I selfish or self-less?
Sometimes I hate heart-examination. Worse is I hate admitting my failings. (Except for my spelling blunders.)
Nevertheless, here I go.
I've wanted since last winter to read the writing of A.W. Tozer. Sometime this fall, a copy of FELLOWSHIP OF THE BURNING HEART: A Collection of Sermons by A.W. Tozer showed up in my house. Qui-winki-dink? Hmm. I started reading it last month. The first sermon is called "How to Pray for Revival."
Some of us are praying like this [for the glory of God to be revealed], but there is a serpent in the garden. It is the serpent of self. It twines itself about the most beautiful trees, and it is there to poison your prayers and destroy your prayers. James 4:3 says: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss , that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
It is possible for me to go to my knees, even miss a meal and fast, and say, "Oh, God, let Thy glory be revealed to men," and at the same time have a sneaking hope that I'll be the one He uses to reveal that glory. Do you know what I'm asking for? I'm asking for a cut of the glory of God, a percentage of the glory of God, and I'll never get my prayer answered.
Now, my brethern, we must elevate our hearts and pray: "O God, honor Thyself, but do it through me or do it without me or do it apart from me." ~A.W. Tozer
I've heard many an author say "I'm writing for God's glory." I've said it. Yet, I can also remember walking along the bookshelves in the Twin Hickory library this past summer, stopping at a best-selling inspirational author's books, and saying, "Someday I'm going to sell more books that you." Oh, I followed it up with "I'm writing for Your glory, Lord. Use me to bring glory and honor and praise to You." After all, it's about Him, not me. Sometimes. Not all the times.
I've rejoiced over the successes of fellow authors, while holding resentment in my heart. "Why not me, Lord? My manuscripts are just as good as hers."
When I say I rejoiced over the successes of fellow authors, I mean actually rejoiced. When Melanie Dickerson announced she'd sold her medieval manuscript to Zondervan, I was beaming like a proud momma at the computer screen. (Great book, btw!) I was so happy for her. Then I walked away..and the serpents of jealousy, resentment, and selfishness buried themselves in my heart. I wanted to sell my medieval too. I wanted to be the next bright inspirational romance star. I wanted to start my journey of selling more books and receiving more awards than That Author in my library.
So last Saturday night as I was mulling over the hatred and strive motivating Amy's anti-Virginia Tech views, I realized I had bad motivations in my heart too. Just like Amy, I denied the truth because I could honestly say I was happy for my fellow authors' successes.
I had to search the hidden corners of my heart, which God aided by shining a spotlight. (God is rather helpful that way, especially when we ask for help.) I questioned if I could I honestly pray,"Lord, honor Yourself through So-and-So's writing. Use So-and-So to reveal Your glory...even if it means me never being published."
Oh, it was certainly easy...umm, easier to pray that if the person was a dear friend. I'd certainly be okay if God chose to bring honor and glory to Himself through my mentor and friend, Laurie Alice Eakes, by allowing her to become the best-selling historical inspirational romance author of all time. I thought of several author friends, like Julie Lessman, Missy Tippens, and Sandi Rog to name a few, who I'd be just as thrilled for their best-selling-of-all-time, multiple-Rita-wins success.
Then I started thinking about other writers I knew. Published. Unpublished. Ones who novels I didn't like. Ones who said things that hurt me or that I found offensive. And I found it harder and harder to say that prayer. I wasn't willing to give up my ever selling a manuscript in exchange for their best-selling-of-all-time staus. That's when I knew the core motivation of my heart was selfishness. I wanted a share of God's glory.
I really want to delete this post. In fact, I don't want to share what I've just written because I feel as if I'm glorifying myself in being this open. So I'm gonna sit here for a few moments and wait for God to tell me it's okay to delete this post. See, I did what He asked me to and, like Abraham, being willing to is enough. Any minute now. Still waiting. And now my makeup is all ruined, which means I'm gonna have to wash my face, which means I won't wake up, look in the mirror, forget I still have makeup on, and think, "Wow, I look better than I remembered."
You must be willing to pray, "O God, answer with me or without me or apart from me. But please answer, God. Glorify Thyself in our midst. Send out missionaries, Lord. But if You want to send out two more from another church than You do from mine, I'm satisfied. Send revival, Lord, but if You want to bless the church across the city and not mine, okay. If You want to use me, all right, but if not, I'll back the man You do use. I'll love him; I won't be jealous; I'll pray for him; and I'll work behind the scenes; and I'll do my deal-level best, unseen to do what I can do.
If it's the glory of God we want to see restored/honored/uplifted, then we won't care if we have any part in it or not.
Maybe my job--maybe your job--isn't to be Moses. Maybe we're to be Joshua or Caleb holding up Moses' arms. Can you honestly be okay with that? Even if that annoying, arrogant, elitist, etc., author in one of your writing groups is God's chosen Moses.
If you really want God to bless and to bring honor to Himself, then you have to be satisfied for God to use somebody else to do it.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you deal with jealousy toward fellow writers or co-workers or classmates?