by Charles R. Swindoll
Paul found himself between a rock and a hard place. He wanted to be in heaven but needed to be on earth. In a temporal sort of way, I share the same frustration every year on Super Bowl Sunday. “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and watch the Super Bowl . . . yet to remain in the pulpit is more necessary for your sake” (Phil. 1:23-24, Swindoll paraphrase).
Now don’t get me wrong. I love to preach. It’s one of the few things I’d rather do than eat—as my wife can testify. But I also love football. With only minor adjustments, both of these “loves” can be maintained without much difficulty . . . except for one Sunday a year. Super Bowl Sunday. On that particular day I freely admit, I have a conflict.
I’ve thought of all sorts of alternative plans:
Place a tiny TV on the pulpit shelf and bow in silent prayer several times (to check the score).
Put a small radio in my suit coat and wear an earphone.
Ask an usher to signal the score periodically.
Conflicts are common. Unfortunately, they are seldom as lighthearted as this one. Some are, in fact, desperately serious.
What is a conflict? A conflict is an emotional collision. It is stress caused by incompatible desires or demands. It is what occurs when we have two or more impulses in competition with one another. The stronger the impulse, the greater the tension. The greater the tension, the louder the collision.
Conflicts come in many packages, such as when a mother wants to walk with God, raise her children to love the Lord and honor His name. But her husband is turned off to spiritual things. That woman has a conflict between her “mother impulses” and her “wife impulses.” She lives with an emotional collision.
I have no quick, easy solutions to complex conflicts. But I know this much: Our Lord cares for His own. Knowing our limitations, He urges us to “cast all our anxieties on Him” (1 Pet. 5:7) and to replace worry with active, specific prayer (Phil. 4:6). Prayer may not stop the collision, but, like seat belts, it sure can protect us from serious damage.
Subtract the power of Christ, the wisdom of His Word, the calming presence of the Holy Spirit, and you have unbearable collisions that lead to unbelievable tragedies.