I’m entering the 4th quarter. There is no doubt about it. There may or may not be as many minutes in this quarter for me, but it is definitely the 4th quarter. What shall be my “game plan”?
Well, what have I learned in the game so far?
I was a rookie in the 1st quarter. I needed to gain experience. I must have listened to the coaches some. Probably the assistant coaches more than the head coach. But then, I also wanted to try some of my own plays. My plays often didn’t work as well as the coach’s. I probably thought it was just “practice,” little did I know that I was already getting “game time.” I did find a great teammate during the first quarter. She agreed to help me for the rest of the game.
In the 2nd quarter I really began to understand that I was in a game. I took the playing time seriously. I set some goals and achieved some of them. The strange thing, looking back, is that now I realize I was in the wrong game. I was working hard to outplay my teammates rather than focusing on the opponent. The real opponent was not clear to me. I was just trying to excel by outworking my teammates. I suppose the effort kept me in the game. I thought I was a pretty important player in the game, while really I was just on the practice squad.
I missed the “halftime.” I switched teams and kept on playing. I thought I was switching games, too. But the game goes on. My new team was different. They listened to the “coach.” They all worked very hard. Excellence was the standard. I “bought into” that goal. Slowly I began to see who the real opponent was. That was a game changer. To get into this game I needed to go back to school and relearn the game plan – to begin to understand that the “head coach” knew what needed to be done to win this game and listen to Him.
So here I am at the beginning of the 4th quarter. I want to finish the game strong. I need to continue to work out – to get stronger. I need to really get into the coach’s mind to understand the game plan. I need to read His playbook, to listen intentionally and follow His plan. It is clear to me now that His plan is the only successful game plan. He wants me to play hard, but to put my efforts into His game plan. I don’t need to be the quarterback. The game is won or lost in the “trenches.”
I think the Coach wants me to mentor some of the inexperienced players and help the injured players finish the game as best they can. The aches and pains that I have acquired in the first three quarters may help me to help them. Maybe, just maybe, some of them won’t wait until late in the 3rd quarter to get with the game plan.
In the end, I don’t need to have my jersey retired. I find joy in knowing I am on the right team. Knowing that my efforts mean something. My reward will be seeing some success in my teammates. I’ll just be happy to enter the locker room and celebrate the victory.
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AUTHOR: DEACON BOB MCCLELLAN
Deacon Bob McClellan ministers at Corpus Christi Parish and to inmates at the Pottawattamie County Jail. He recently retired as Director of Operations at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha. He and his wife, Peggy, are Council Bluffs natives, and enjoy family, kayaking, camping and the mountains when they get the chance.