My dad was an ardent 49ers fan. He grew up on the sky-high sloping streets of San Francisco, a stone’s throw from the old Kezar Stadium, where his nighttime lullaby was the roaring crowd on game day. Because of this, my brothers and I were raised on a steady regimen of football tales and 49er lore, which couldn’t be outdone by Dad’s love of the fog that blanketed the city by the bay.
My dad was peculiar in many ways, loving stormy days and foggy nights instead of sun and clear skies. But one of his quirkier habits was to record the 49ers’ games and not watch them live. He couldn’t handle the stress of watching his favorite team play in real-time. Dad had a strict policy of not knowing what happened in the game until it was over. When he finally checked who won, if the 49ers lost, he’d forget there was a game and delete the recording. However, if they won, he’d have a “Niner” night and watch the game with peace of mind, knowing the outcome.
My brothers and I still chuckle at Dad’s eccentricity. However, I can’t help but understand some of his football-taping habits. It’s nice to know at the beginning that it will end how you’d like—with a victory.
Victory is sure
We know Jesus wins. Just like Marty McFly took the DeLorean from the past and jumped to the future, we, too, can see the end works out as it should. We have the book, we’ve heard the story—read it front to back, following along with all those who’ve gone long before us—from the fall to standing alongside Jesus in glory. We know He’ll rise from His current seated state and stand victorious one day over the entire Earth as the righteous judge. Ever since Eve held her baby boy and proclaimed, “I’ve gotten a man from the Lord,” humanity has been waiting expectantly.
But this in-between. It feels brutal and hopeless most of the time. I’ve heard it called the “messy middle.” Even on good days, evil lurks somewhere just down the street or right in the palm of our hand as we swipe up, reminding us that we are far from utopia.
Knowing the end but living in the “messy middle” is like living out life in a full-scale reenactment battle. It looks so ugly and impossible that good will ever triumph over evil. Yet, we all get up and go home at the end.
We’re told in great detail that good does win.
The Old Testament prophets to the Revelation of Jesus promise us the ultimate victory of good over evil.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create…” Isaiah 65: 17-19
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21: 3-4
Death shall be no more, and living like victory is certain.
I think one of the most challenging things about living here in the messy middle is death. An old friend of ours died right before Christmas. And just this week, I received a phone call about another friend dying unexpectedly. But truth be told, it wasn’t unexpected. We know death is a certainty for us all. We live fully aware that every one of us will die—and that day can come at any time—and yet, each new phone call shocks us.
Friend, I don’t know about you, but I’m battling lately to live in the “messy middle” in a way that shouts to the world that victory is sure. I don’t want to “grieve as others do who have no hope.”
But sometimes, I fail to do this well.
I’m convinced that spending time with Jesus is the only remedy.
Here, we are reminded that this whole reenactment battle plays out exactly as God says it will, with victory. I long to—as Paul says in Romans—consider it a fact that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed to us.
And oh, the glory that will be revealed!
I imagine John watching the Revelation of Jesus play out before him, mouth gaping while an angel stands close to push it shut. John peeked into heaven, witnessing the victory amidst the mess, and we now have the privilege of reading about it. He wrote it hoping we would stand with gaping mouths and streaming tears, beholding the glory while entrenched in pain. God pulled back the curtain so that all who read, hear, and keep what is written would be blessed in the mess.
This isn’t going to end the way you think.
Those who know Jesus Christ as our savior, friend, and God have a gift to give this tired, weary world. It’s the gift of hope that is sure— a hope that is secure, hard-fought, and won before Adam and Eve ever even thought of taking the fruit from the tree.
Friend, we have the golden ticket of God’s presence in a hurting world and the sureness of His victory in the world to come.
Watch the game like we’ve already won.
Dad has been gone for three years now. He won’t be taping the football game this next Sunday and waiting to see if his beloved 49ers win their 6th Super Bowl. I doubt he cares much about football now. But my brothers and I will watch the game and think of Dad with smiles, reminiscing how he used to watch it, knowing they’d already won.
I want to live life like my dad watched the 49ers play: watching the hard spaces with a smile because Jesus’ secured victory is never farther than the book in my hand and the truth in my heart.
Will you join me today in living like my dad watched football—with the certainty of victory?
Is there a place where you’re struggling to claim the truth of victory while walking through the hard? Could you take it to Jesus and ask Him to show you a peek of heaven today? We’re told that if we ask, He is faithful to answer.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,