As a New York Knicks basketball fan, I've had some victories and some play-off games to cheer for. But I've had my share of disappointments, too. And too many of them have come at the hands of one particular opponent - a player named Reggie Miller. This man has done more to stop my team than just about anybody I can think of because something happens to this man in a close game, when there's suddenly just a minute or two left. He's on fire! He may or may not have had a lot of points earlier in the game, but somehow he seems to save his best for last. With time running out, Reggie suddenly becomes a scoring machine, making fantastic shots, often scoring enough points to send my team home for the season. Any player is a powerful force when he knows the end is near and lights up to makes a difference!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "Lighting Up At The End Of The Game."
You may be at a point in your "game of life" when you feel as if most of the game is behind you. You've scored just about all the points you're going to score. You're just sort of coasting from here to the end of the game. Well, that is no way to finish your game!
Consider Caleb from our word for today from the Word of God. He was one of those 12 scouts Moses sent ahead to check out the Promised Land before the Jews were to enter it. Ten came back saying, "Giants there! No way!" Two came back saying, "God is with us! Way!" But because of the unbelief of the people, a whole generation wandered in the wilderness for 40 more years until all the adults of that unbelieving generation were dead - except those two believers, Joshua and Caleb. Now, with the new generation taking the Promised Land, Caleb is 40 years older than his first visit there. But is he ready to hang up his sneakers and call it a game? No way!
Here it is. Joshua 14:10. "So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as He said." Not bad for 85, huh?
Here is one of God's players who is near the end of his game - but he wants to light up the scoreboard. He says, "Give me that mountain! I'll take on those giants if they're in the way of what God wants!" That's the kind of fourth quarter players that God is looking for! Yes, your body may slow down some, your energy may not be what it once was, but you aren't dead yet! God wouldn't be leaving you here if He still didn't have work for you to do, lives for you to touch, a difference for you to make! In the Holy Spirit's great outpouring just before Jesus returns, God says in Acts 2:17, "Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams."
Maybe you've allowed yourself to slip into a survival mentality, or maybe you've become self-absorbed or self-pitying. In the fourth quarter, some people just settle into a reward mindset. "Well, I've worked hard all these years. I'll just settle back and relax now. It's time just to reward myself for what I did in the first three quarters of the game." Wait a minute! The game isn't over yet! We'll rest in heaven. We'll get rewarded in heaven. But, for now, we can't waste any of the all-too-few days we have to serve Christ. As the Apostle Paul neared his finish line, he said he was "poured out like a drink offering." He wanted to cross the finish line having given so much for his Master that he had nothing left when he collapsed into Jesus' arms! Don't you want to do that?
That's the kind of four-quarters heroes God is looking for. So make up your mind that you're going to finish your game well. For, as Amy Carmichael said, "We will have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only a few short hours to win them." And we are in those few short hours.