“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands, seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.” Zephaniah 2:4
Madden NFL 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What do Eddie George, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk, Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, and Shaun Alexander have in common? (Other than having been NFL football players) They all appeared on the cover of the video game Madden NFL and were all victims of the Madden curse. The Madden curse is alleged to doom the player gracing the cover of the EA Sports video game, Madden NFL, to suffer a significant injury or perform horribly the following season.
Many believe in the Madden curse.
Maybe, it is God’s punishing them for pride.
Maybe, it is karma.
Maybe, it is the wrath of the god of football.
Maybe, it is something I don’t understand but it is still real.
I read the article, “Is the “Madden Curse” Real?”. The author concluded:
Madden is selecting players who had outstanding seasons the previous year. But just like a roulette wheel might have a run where it comes up red 75% of the time, the outstanding performance by the players who appear on the cover is not sustainable. So the year after they’re featured they don’t perform as well as they did the year before, and it looks like they’re cursed. In reality, they’re simply playing back at the same level they were before their outstanding season. They’re just regressing to the mean, and it would have happened whether they appeared on the cover of Madden or not.
Madden NFL 07 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The “Madden Curse” is not real. These players had a great year performing above their average. The Madden Curse is just a reminder that sustaining elite levels of performance can be very difficult. The laws of averages usually pull us back. The typical improvement for individuals is incremental. In March, I blogged about my goal to swim a mile in my local 25-yard, City pool in less than 30 minutes. While I would like to report that I have succeeded, I have not – it is much harder than I had thought. I swam my prescribed distance this last week in 31 minutes, 32 seconds. It was 6 seconds faster than the week before. However, it is an improvement of 2 minutes from March.
I have had monster swims that threatened the 30 minute mark. I have had wimpy swims with no improvement. My average improvement always seems to come back to small increments of improvement over extended periods of training. I am swimming at a gradually descending average. This is the typical experience of professional athletes and the recreational age-groupers, like me. I think it is more the norm in the spiritual realm than I would like to admit.
There are many who revert to “Madden Curse” like explanations when they stumble in their sanctification. Feelings of great spiritual triumph will often be followed by flare ups of indwelling sin. The zeal of close fellowship with our Savior might be extinguished by a heart that has no passion to pray or study God’s word. (Duguid, Barbara)
We can be tempted to search for explanations of what is happening within us rather than acknowledging that we are not as good as we had thought. We need to remember that because of the Spirit within us we are not as bad as our melancholy suggests. We are uniquely progressing in our personal sanctification under the loving hand of our heavenly Father.
There are some who over-react to circumstances. They function in their spiritual lives primarily in the realm of feelings rather than in the realm of knowledge. They may feel like God is punishing them when He is not. They misunderstand the events in their lives as God’s displeasure when He is actually leading them to a deeper and richer understanding of His grace. (Duguid, Barbara)
J.D. Salinger wrote in the Nine Stories:
Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.
I believe the sentiment of this quote is applicable to many Christians.
Christians are always taking circumstance so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.
We live in a fallen world that follows the sovereign plan of God. God has the power to keep us from sickness, distress, and pain. There are times when He delivers us from the troubles of our fallen environment and there are times when He does not. As Zephaniah prophesied to the faithful in Israel, “perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord”. The opposite is equally true; perhaps you will not be hidden from the pain of a fallen world.
Whether He delivers us or He does not, is not commentary on His pleasure in our obedience. The walk through difficult times is not a Madden like curse. Equally, the walk through victory does not mean we are ready for a video cover.
A fall back to our progression of sanctification, while disappointing, does not incur the displeasure of a disappointed Father. God knows what is in us. He knows the sin that still entangles our love. We should be thankful when God reveals to us our indwelling sin – it should humble us into repentance and reliance upon His grace.
God loves us enough not to leave our sanctification incomplete.
Therefore, let us respond to all circumstances in the same manner;
by seeking the Lord, seeking His righteousness, not our own, in humility.
Let us praise Him in our victories – for they are all due to Him.
Let us praise Him in our failures – for He is not done with us.
PRAYER: O Lord, you know that I have a tendency of being preoccupied by the condition of my soul. Thank you for the love that you continue to show me in my victories, defeats, and average plodding. Lord, continue your work in me to transform my heart and to cleanse me of my indwelling sin. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Extravagant Grace, Barbara R. Duguid