PUT ME IN, COACH!
by David Sisler
With our national attention focused – properly – on Al Qaida, and Saddam Hussein, it is easy to forget that a scant ten years ago, we were astounded when another Evil Empire, without a shot being fired, simply collapsed.
When a freedom uprising in East Germany was suppressed in 1953, another in Hungary in 1956, and a third in Czechoslovakia in 1968, there seemed to be no way to curb the power of Communism. With sophisticated weapons of terror against them, ordinary citizens seemed to have no hope.
Then the Soviet Union collapsed. Freedom swept through the former Communist bloc. Satellite nations declared their independence and overthrew their old governments.
What all of the so-called experts said could never happen, happened. And the world still wonders about the cause. The inability to maintain the pace of an extensive arms race, the failure to provide for the basic needs of its people, the collapse of leadership have all been suggested as reasons for the demise of the Soviet system.
Those things are only the outward signs. There is an underlying reason, largely ignored by almost all of the experts. While western analysts were tabulating their arguments, they left God out of their calculations.
The only important opposition to Communist rule in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary for two generations was the Catholic Church. In Romania, for 25 years, it was a crime to wish your neighbor a Merry Christmas. The first Christmas services under freedom were celebrated in churches filled to overflowing.
When Robert Novak addressed the Notre Dame Club of Chicago a decade ago, he said, “I was wrong about Communism, and so are all those who deny God’s power in history. The most sophisticated methods of thought control, imposed for over 70 years of oppression and tyranny, accomplished nothing. It would seem, that it is not God after all who is dead, but Marx and Lenin.”
As President George W. Bush tries to convince a spineless United Nations that one more resolution will not cause the Iraqi dictator to change his ways, and to get the members of the loyal opposition to put country before politics, we need to remember the God we rediscovered on our knees on September 11, 2001. It is ultimately against the Lord God Almighty that Saddam Hussein stands in this unfinished business.
3500 years earlier another evil empire seemed invulnerable. At God’s direction 12 spies, 12 men in positions of leadership, crossed the Jordan River and began a surveillance operation. All the spies agreed: the land flows with milk and honey, the local inhabitants are numerous and they live in well-fortified cities.
Ten of the spies, like most observers of the Soviet Union, said, “We will have to learn to get along with them. There is no way we can conquer them. Better yet, let’s totally withdraw from the area so that we can at least survive. Those people are giants. We are grasshoppers – in their estimation and in our own.”
Those ten spies, like most Westerners, totally discounted the hand of God. For two years, everything they ate, everything they drank was provided by God. They spun no wool, they dried no leather. Yet neither their clothes, nor their shoes wore out. God provided their every need.
When they left Egypt, Israel had no idea where they were going, but every morning they followed a pillar of cloud in total confidence. Every evening they pitched camp and slept without fear, because a pillar of fire marked God’s protection.
Do you know what they concluded – in total disregard of two years of daily miracles? We must withdraw. These people cannot be overcome. God is wrong. We cannot attack and win.
John McKay, one college football’s most successful coaches and later coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers professional team, said, “No matter how good you are, if you do not think the coach is right, you do not have a chance.”
Maybe that’s why we thought the Soviet Union was unconquerable. We disregarded our coach, the Lord God Almighty. That is why Israel spent the next 40 years wandering outside of a land they could have owned – they disregarded their coach, the Lord God Almighty.
When God points at your life, or at mine, and says, “Here is a battle to fight,” there are only two ways to respond. You can stroll the sidelines, complaining, “The Coach is wrong. I cannot possibly win.” Or with confidence in a God who has never failed, you can say, “We can win. Put me in, Coach!”
Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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