I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15 RSV)
Sunday night, July 18th, 1999, Asuncion, Paraguay. It is the final game of the Americas Cup. Brazil is leading Uruguay 3 to 0 for the championship. The official 45 minutes of the second half ends. The game goes into a final two minutes of compensatory time.
The sports commentator can’t wait. “Brazil won!” “It’s over, we’ve won!” The reserve players on the sidelines begin jumping and yelling. The fans are delirious. Everyone is on their feet dancing and singing.
There are two minutes left in the game. Two minutes can be a long time. But two minutes is not enough time to place three goals and tie the game. A key player down, a man expelled, a series of fouls could reverse the fortunes of any team, given enough time. But a moment comes in the game when there are too many points and not enough time.
The game was not over that night, but the winner had already been decided. Uruguay was still playing, but they had already lost. Brazil was still playing, but they had already won. And nothing would take the victory from them.
What an incredible moment. To still be playing the game, fighting to win, knowing it’s not over yet, but knowing you’ve won. You stay on the field. You keep your position. You do what you were sent there to do. But you do it with the smile on your face and the joy in your heart of knowing the victory is already yours.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Father, we do not want to run from the conflicts of this life, we only ask that you fulfill the request of your Son and keep us from the evil one. We are frustrated with our failures, exhausted with the length of our fight, and we still do not see the end of our struggle. But we commemorate, because in Christ we have already won. Help us to be faithful to him until the end. Thank you for the victory that is ours also because of Christ Jesus.