No More Timeouts!
With North Carolina leading 73-71 with 19 seconds left, Chris Webber of Michigan grabbed a rebound, dribbled the length of the floor and asked for a timeout. This is common at the end of close basketball games, so the teams can meet with their coaches and set their strategies, but the problem was that Michigan didn’t have any timeouts left: they had called them all. The penalty for this was that they were called for a technical foul, which meant that North Carolina was awarded two free throws and the ball. North Carolina went on to make the free throws, score on the possession and win the game and the national championship 77-71, and Webber’s mistake still routinely makes an appearance on lists of the all-time greatest sports gaffes in history.
Unfortunately, many of us find that we try to burn a lot of timeouts in life, too. We are especially guilty of burning them with God: we come to appreciate at certain times in our lives, maybe at a Christmas or Easter service, that we should perhaps take spiritual things more seriously. We hear the story of Jesus and His Birth and we’re touched, we’re moved to tears about his love for sinners that He suffered and died for them, and rose again to prove His victory and we’re ecstatic. We know that Jesus should receive our faith and love, and our behaviour should change in light of that, but we call timeout: we get busy with our families, with our lives, with work, with friends or a new interest and we take that timeout to reorganize ourselves back to to the usual.
That, my friend, is a mistake: we don’t know how many “timeouts” we have in this life, just as Chris Webber didn’t know how many he had that night with millions of people watching. God offers us an opportunity to recognize that we are in a losing game: because of who we are as sinners, we are rebels against God and estranged from Him. He sent His Son Jesus Christ, who is fully God but who became truly human as well, to suffer all the punishment that God has determined sin requires – namely, death. He was beaten, crucified and died and in that time accepted the punishment for sins even though He never sinned himself. The result of that is, if we repent (that is, turn from our sin and our selfishness) and trust that Jesus Christ is truly the God-Man and that His sacrifice for sins was sufficient for all your sins to be forgiven by God, then we enjoy being made a “new creature”: our relationship to God is made new again, once for all time, and the very righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself is accounted to us as though it were ours.
But God is not anybody’s servant, and even though he offers us Good News, it is a limited time offer. Every minute you spend not believing it, you are spending in further disobedience to God. Soon, we all find out, just like Chris Webber that when we want a “timeout” the most, we’ve forgotten we don’t have any left.
“Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation!” II Corinthians 6:2.