Watching the March Madness college basketball tournament reminds me of the days when I played basketball. There was always excitement on game day, and a bit of nervousness too. When we would play in the opponent’s gym, sometimes they would have a rowdy crowd. When you’re shooting free throws, and the crowd is doing everything they can to disrupt you to make you miss, you rely on muscle memory to make the shot. Muscle memory is developed in practice when the fundamentals are poured into you and repeated over and over. You do the same routine over and over so your brain isn’t distracted by the craziness on game day. So, when you’re standing there on that line, you remember what you’ve been taught and practiced and make the shot.
In 2 Timothy 3, Paul let’s Timothy know that crazy, difficult days are ahead. He said, “People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God; they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people” (2 Timothy 3:2-5 GNT). That sounds an awful lot like world we are living in now. There are so many distractions around us, and so many things trying to divide the Church. There’s pressure to leave the fundamentals of Christianity because it is opposed to all these things listed, which have been normalized. With all of this going on, it would be easy for us to miss the shot right in front of us. That’s why Paul told us what to do during these times.
In verse 14, he wrote, “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you” (NLT). We must hold onto the eternal truth of God’s Word. While the world is trying to move the boundary markers of truth, we must hold fast to what is real truth. The fundamentals of faith are what we must hold tightly too and implement into our lives. Romans 12:2 reminds us not to conform to the culture of the world, but to continuously renew our minds. How do we renew our mind? By putting the truth of God’s Word into it daily so we can combat what the world is throwing at us. We are not to change God’s Word to fit into our culture. Instead, we are to be changed by God’s Word so that we stand out in this culture in order to lead people to Christ. We have a great opportunity to remain faith to God’s fundamentals.
I used to worry a lot. There were things going on in my life that I couldn’t control. Things were happening faster than I could react to them. That worry lead to stress. That stress then lead to high blood pressure. My doctor put me on blood pressure meds, but they didn’t work. I’m thinking she probably should have put me on anxiety meds. I’m glad she didn’t because medicine wasn’t the answer I needed. My answer came through a friend who wasn’t scared to say something.
She asked me some questions that got me to thinking. She asked, “Are the things that are happening to you a surprise to God? Is God worried about them? Or is He still on His throne and in control?” Well I knew the answers to those questions, but didn’t want to say it. They did make me think about how I was looking at things. I had gotten so caught up in the problems and things popping up in my life that I allowed God to be taken out of the equation.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us get caught up in our daily life and the problems that catch us unaware. We allow them to consume us to the point that it dominates how and what we think. When that happens to us, it’s easy to make our problems bigger than the God we serve. It doesn’t happen over night either. It comes from a constant bombardment of things that attack us. It’s a war technique that is happening to you.
Think back to Desert Storm. Our initial operations there had a code name of “Shock and Awe”. Most war plans, game plans and plans of attack begin with some type of shock and awe. They do it because if you aren’t expecting it, it will throw you off course, force you to make poor decisions and it gives the attacker the upper hand. It is designed to break your will and to keep you from fighting back. Submission is its goal.
I had submitted to the things that were coming at me faster than I could handle. I left the fundamentals that I had been taught. Once I did that, I began to be defeated. Defeat is the ultimate goal of our attacker. Once we are defeated, we are no longer a threat. Defeat breeds worry and depression which are cyclical and keep you from fighting. They take our mind out of the war that is going on and eventually remove the thought that God still cares and is our path to victory.
My friends questions caused me to put God back in the equation. When God is added in to the battles in your life, victories are multiplied. God cares deeply about where you are. He is not unaware of the things that are plaguing your mind right now. He is silently waiting for you to remember Him and to get back to the fundamentals which are praying and reading His Word. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. If you need a faith boost this morning, get into God’s Word. Read it out loud. Speak the promises of God and reclaim your mind. Victory is at stake.