A Game of Inches
The Space Between
Pastor Marc Johnson
Often the difference between victory and defeat is a matter of a few inches. Even though it seems like a small distance, in fact…for those who lose; that distance is a “great” distance…a distance that could not be overcome. We all have a distance between us and God that we can never overcome…luckily, God overcomes it for us.
Luke 15:11-24 | James 4:8
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RECAP OF MESSAGE SERIES
We are in the last week of a message series called “A Game of Inches”
– Growth in life doesn’t occur in large chunks at one time
– Growth comes in small increments over a long period of time
– identifying your gifts and expand at the edges
– being spirit-led in our prayers and life
– the importance of order in our lives and in our church
Over the past several weeks I’ve used the phrase/illustration that you can “drive the ball down the field 99, 2 yards and 11 inches) and that one inch can be the difference between victory or defeat.
– one inch can be the difference between strike 3 and a game winning/losing homerun
– one inch can be the difference between a game winning 3 pointer or defeat
I’ve become fascinated with this “space between”…the space between a homerun and a strike
– A pitch left hanging just an inch…or just a little outside for ball 4
– That pass led just an inch to far; or thrown an inch too short
That is the space between glory and infamy…the space between winning and losing. And it can even be the space between life and death
The space between victory or defeat seems like such a small distance….such a small space. For Kevin Dyson (the wide-receiver for the Tennessee Titans) the space wasn’t all that small….In fact, it was huge.
– Even though it was but 1 yard…It was a space that was too great for Kevin Dyson to span. He couldn’t make it. No matter how hard he tried…that distance was too great!
LET’S TAKE THIS THOUGHT AND APPLY IT TO ALL OF OUR LIVES (WE ALL STRUGGLE WITH THIS TENSION)?
Let’s be real with each other today….Let’s be brave enough to be vulnerable
– We’ve all encountered spaces in our lives that were too great to span
1 Samuel 20:19-22 tells of a signal Jonathan gives to David, whether or not things are safe
– If the arrows are beyond you, then you must flee
Let’s face it – sometimes that arrows are just beyond us….sometimes the distance is too great.
1 Samuel 20:19-22 (ESV)
19On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap.
20And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark.
21And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger.
22But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away.
Arrows = Too Far
We all want our marriage to be successful when we enter into it
– And when things go wrong, many of us (even in this room) work hard to save that marriage
– But you can’t save a marriage when only 1/2 of the marriage wants to stay
= Arrows beyond us
We all want to be successful in every job/career we start
– But no one can anticipate the market, the shiftings of corporations, etc.
= Arrows beyond us
We all want our loved ones to be healed and made whole when they get sick
– But sometimes life is just too fragile
= Arrows beyond us
SPECIAL THOUGHT: CHASING ARROWS
How much time and energy do we spend chasing arrows that are beyond us?
– Even arrows shot of our own making
– Decisions we make that set us up for failure…leaving us to chase down arrows that are NOW too far.
We try to span that gap and make up ground. But it’s too late
– the bridges of that relationship have been burnt
– the door to that opportunity is now closed
Some of you are, right now, chasing arrows that you shouldn’t be chasing down anymore.
– “What if” is ALWAYS an arrow that is beyond you
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THIS?
So let’s get to the heart of this idea of “the space between.”
– I’ve been transfixed on one line from a story Jesus tells in the new Testament. Many, if not most everyone here know’s it as the “Parable of the Lost Son”
Jesus in Luke 15 tells a story of a man with 2 sons
– 1 son demands his share of the inheritance immediately
– The father sells off half of everything he owns and gives it to his son
– The son heads off to the city and wastes the money on all the bad-stuff you can imagine wasting money on
He then comes to his senses while slopping pigs and decides to head home.
Luke 15:20-24 (ESV)
20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
There we have it – the space between
– “While he was still a long ways off”
– The distance between forgiveness and rejection
– The distance between life and death
Let’s not mince words here: This was space of the son’s making – he chose this space….His actions led him to be “a long ways off”
– The son was not a victim of society nor was he a victim of his circumstances
– He can’t blame where he ended up on a lack of love, parentage, education, opportunity, or anything else. He chose that path that led him to being “a long ways off”
The Bottom line is – we’ve all found ourselves a long ways off from God. We’ve all been far from the presence and perfection of an almighty God
– and we have no one to blame but ourselves
Romans 3:23 (ESV)
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
TOO GREAT TO SPAN
We often get hung up on how close to “far away” we are
– “I might fall a little short…but look at that guy…He’s way off!”
Interview Kevin Dyson and ask him if would have mattered if he was stopped 3 yards shy or 5 yards shy of the end zone
Is. 64:6 says “Our righteousness is like filthy rags” – which drives the point home to us
– Even barely falling short in our own eyes…in reality is still a LONG WAYS OFF!
Let me be clear this morning – this is a gap that you and I cannot span. The space between us and God is too great for us to cross it…it’s too far!
But, Luke 15 says while the son was a far ways off – the father ran to Him
– The father covered the gap that the son never could
– The father filled in the space between the son’s mistakes and the Father’s love!
– The father made up the difference
Say it with me, those who know….”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Father does the following:
– seeks the son
– sees the son
– pursues the son
– covers the son
– restores the son
– celebrates the son
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US? WHAT’S NEXT FOR US?
This is what I love about our God. This is why it’s called, “amazing grace”
– God spans the gap that we cannot – he covers the space between our failure and His victory. He closes the distance.
WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US
James 4:8 (ESV)
8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
DRAWING NEAR TO GOD
Remember – WE DON’T SPAN THE GAP BETWEEN US AND GOD…WE TURN TO HIM AND HE COVERS THE GROUND BETWEEN US AND HIM
1) cleanse your hands
– ritual, before entering into a house or sharing a meal
– it was a symbol that you were done with whatever was going on outside, now you were ready to fully engage in what was happening within the house
2) purify your heart
– many people think “pure” means “good”
– pure means undiluted and/or not polluted
– it is the setting of someone for a specific task and no other
BRINGING IT HOME
Simply put, drawing near to God means:
1) being done with whatever mistakes, sin, pain you were involved in
– like taking off your “work” shoes before coming in
– I had these…now I’m leaving them outside and not going back
2) setting your heart purely on God
– putting Him first and living for Him