I WILL GIVE MY ALL ….!

Knoxville, Tennessee is the home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team.  In the fall of the year, the city falls under the spell of the Big Orange Volunteer Spirit, with over 100,000 fans cheering in the stadium at a home game.  During football season, it is not unusual to see stores, offices, homes, and restaurants of every type decked out in Big Orange colors of orange and white in support for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Support for Volunteer football team
Support for Volunteer football team

In fact, today is the first game of the 2015 season and it is out of town.  But the Volunteers don’t need to be in town to have dedicated fans.  Yesterday, I went to a restaurant for lunch with a friend, and well over 50% of the people in the building were wearing orange shirts, hats, jewelry, and the owner was even wearing orange pants.

Now, I, too, am a Big Orange Volunteer fan, make no mistake about that.  While none in my family are native to Knoxville, we long ago caught the fever of college SEC football, cheering for the Tennessee Volunteer football team, win, lose or draw!

Our dedication to the team even extended to the turf on which the game was played.  When the stadium was changed from artificial turf to grass a number of years ago, we purchased a square of the orange and white end zone for a souvenir of those days gone by!  It is hanging on the family room wall

Piece of the end zone turf, University of Tennessee
Piece of the end zone turf, University of Tennessee

We have our car flags, orange and white T-shirts, sweatshirts and blankets, as well as orange and white car decals, plastic plates, cups, spoons and forks, table cloths, … well you know what I am talking about.

Big Orange football game day table wear
Big Orange football game day table wear

And, of course we have the posters and caps on display, all of which are adorned with the beautiful orange and white of the Volunteers.

National Championship Poster for University of Tennessee
National Championship Poster for University of Tennessee

Finally, we can’t forget the spirit of the game … the cheerleaders, and in years gone past, we even had our own!

Cheerleading to willing fans.
Cheerleading to willing fans.

For the past several years there has been a sign along the interstate advertising the Tennessee Volunteer football program with the slogan that the team will “give our all to Tennessee today!”

It caused me to think about what that phrase meant. “Give our all to Tennessee today!”  I am certain it references the effort that the young players are to give to the game.  I am certain that it reflects the focus that the coaches have in training the team and guiding them during the big games.  I am certain that the team is reminded of this mantra throughout their training whether or not it is a game day.

But it made me think.  I certainly am NOT a football player, never have been and never will be! But I am a Christian.

Can I say that I will give my all to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, today?

Would I have a sign like this in the front yard telling the world that I will give my all to Jesus today?

  • If I had such a sign, would I actually pay attention to it or would it blend in with the scenery?
  • If I had such a sign, would I read it as I left the house each day or would I pass by it and ignore the admonition?
  • If I had such a sign, would I mean what it says, or would it be mere decoration?
  •  If I had such a sign, would I look at it and pray that I would fulfill that promise no matter what the cost, no matter what the consequence, no matter what ….?

Perhaps the first question I need to ask is:

“Do I really want to give my all to Jesus today? Am I that committed to Christ that I want this for my life, today?”

Scripture says this is exactly what we are to do.  In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

We cannot shrug our shoulders and mumble, yeah, but that was said thousands of years ago; it’s not for us 2015! Not so, my friend.  Jesus reiterated that this was still a commandment for us in Matthew 22:37 when He stated that this was the great commandment.

Note that it is an imperative statement — “You shall”.  It is not optional, and it is not a divine suggestion.  As Christians, this commandment expresses how much we should be committed to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Remember, our Lord gave His all for us — He deserves no less from us in response.

So, who will get your all today?

Father, forgive me when I have given my all to the world, to things that have no eternal significance, to idols that take time and attention away from You, my Creator-Sustainer-Sovereign God.  Give me the grace and mercy to give my all to You each day that You give to me. And, Father, I cannot do anything without your enabling through my Lord; so, please give me a heart that can be used by the Holy Spirit to do the work that you have ordained for me, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord, I pray.

NEED TO REFOCUS?

Christmas village that is out of focus
Christmas village that is out of focus

 

The day after Christmas I went to a physical therapy session — not exactly what I wanted to do that day! But I had scheduled it this way so I was going to the appointment. I was waiting for the elevator when the doors opened and I joined others on our trip up to the therapist.  I was in a bad mood since this appointment was interrupting my holiday time with the family, but I was doing it — not smiling about it though!  I was walking with an ankle brace and a cane and was in my second month of physical therapy after severely breaking my ankle four months earlier.

The young man who exited at the second floor with me was walking on two prosthetic legs with a cane for help. My first thought was that he was a Wounded Warrior, a subject dear to me as our son is active military with the Marine Corps. However, as we were waiting to be called in for PT, several of us in the waiting area spoke together and I learned that he lost his legs in an employment-related electrical event eight years earlier. Indeed, he smiled at me and said that it was no one’s “fault”, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just then we were both called back for PT and I thought our conversing was over. However, we were placed in the same area and I had occasion to observe his work, his effort and his dedication to rehabilitating to a normal that most of us take for granted and, I dare say, which most of us do not truly appreciate.

 

Therapeutic rocker board
Therapeutic rocker board

We both used the same tilt board which previously had been a painful obstacle that I did not want to tackle. It looks easy but I found it difficult, tiring and just pain hard.  After watching him struggle to conquer it, I was humbled and contrite as the therapist put it in front of me, smiling as she said “here is your favorite toy!” Complaining about the challenge of this device was nowhere in my thought that day. I wanted to do my best, without complaining, as this young man had done moments before.

Perhaps this encounter was particularly potent given the timing, coming immediately after Christmas which always involves reflecting about our Lord and His birth and sacrifice for us, about family and the various relationships that we have in our family as well as with others in our circles of involvement. But I find myself pondering whether we recognize how blessed we are in so many ways, especially in ways that we don’t even think of as blessings from our Lord and Savior. The very air that we breathe comes from Him. We are created so that systems which are required for living are automatic, like breathing, our heart beating, our brain functioning, and of course physical healing.

With these blessings, however, come obligations. One is Focus.

Focused attention
Focused attention

There is certainly a time for focused attention to a problem, an issue of concern, or even a rock (if you are a budding paleontologist).  However, when we are focused solely on ourselves and our problems, everything else is out of focus. We need to look at the long view, not the myopic view that is so prevalent in our society today.

 

Difficult to keep your focus sometimes
Sometimes focus is hard!

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus taught that the one to whom the Kingdom of God will be open is the one who helps others: the one who feeds the hungry; who provides water to those who are parched; who takes in the stranger; who provides clothes for the naked; the one who visited the sick; the one who visited the prisoner.   These acts are not the “Salvation silver bullet”.   Indeed, when these things are done in our own strength, they are done so that we get the glory, so that we get our name in lights, so that we receive accolades.

Rather, these things reflect a life-style that puts others first, a life-style that addresses the needs and cares of the marginalized and those who are ignored by society. In short, it is a life-style that Jesus Christ exampled for His disciples and it is a life-style that can only be lived by the Christian. It is a life-style that desires glory for God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and this can only come when the Holy Spirit in-dwells the Christian.

On that day, I was acutely aware that while the broken ankle was difficult for me and for my beloved husband who had to do much for me during this time, I know that it is healing and that I  can walk and am not confined to the wheelchair.   My co-patient today was alive and able to live a normal life while many others who encounter an “electrical event” are not able to do so. He, also, knew that he is healing and, although it is a “new normal”, he is able to live and enjoy life and mobility given his prosthetic limbs. He is seeking to walk and move more confidently with his new legs.

I don’t know if the young man in physical therapy was a Christian or not. I do know that he and his actions spoke to me and reminded me that I need to get my focus back on others as the Lord directs.

Now, I am facing surgery on my knees – another time when it would be easy to focus on the me/my/mine of problems. Again I pray that I would be focused so that, even in the time for rehab and recovery, I will be praising my Lord and Savior and that I will be a blessing to others in the name of my Lord.

Focus – sometimes it is hard, but it is always worth it!