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Daily Devotional: Friday, November 11 - In The Oven Of Adversity

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” —  1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

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How do you ever know for sure what any person is all about? What they really stand for and believe? What their real priorities are? Is there any way to really know?

I believe there is. If you really want to know what John Doe is like “deep down,” just check him out during the tough times in his life. Don’t bother with the successful days, or the fun days. That won’t tell you much. Check him out on the darkest days and you’ll see clearly who the real John Doe is.

I want to take you on a brief tour of a man’s life. His name? Major Applewhite. If you are a Texas Longhorns fan, you’ll recognize his name immediately. For three seasons, he was the starting quarterback for the Longhorns. He owns 48 of the individual offensive records at the school. He is a dedicated Christian, and during his college football career, he did more speaking at Fellowship of Christian Athletes events than anyone else. But that doesn’t really tell you what Major Applewhite is like “deep down.” Remember, the “deep down” part of a person is only visible during the dark days. Let me tell you about his dark days.

At the outset of the 2001 football season, Applewhite (a senior) was benched and replaced by superstar Chris Simms, son of NFL great Phil Simms. Applewhite had been the unquestioned leader of the team for three years and had broken all of the significant records. He was looking forward to his final season as a Longhorn. He warmed the bench every single game throughout his senior season — not what he had planned and dreamed. All season long, I remember reporters interviewing him and Chris trying to get some controversy to highlight on the evening news. Neither one fell for those traps. Of course, it was easy for Simms to avoid the traps; he was starting every game. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for Applewhite not to express his disappointments or disagreements?

But Applewhite loves the Bible. By his own words, the passage that he trusted in the whole year was 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV): “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hands of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Applewhite just kept trusting in this passage and working as hard as he could to keep himself prepared.

Throughout the whole season, he not only didn’t complain or gripe, but he worked as hard as he could to help Chris Simms be the best quarterback that he could be. Simms then broke Applewhite’s single-season passing record. How would you be feeling if you were Applewhite? How would you be acting?

Then came Saturday, Dec. 1. No. 3-ranked Texas (in the hunt for the national championship) played No. 9 Colorado. Simms had his worst game of the season that day and Texas was down 29-17 at halftime. But then came the second half. The second half was the fulfillment of God’s promise in Applewhite’s life: “… that at the proper time he may exalt you.” Applewhite brought Texas back with 275 passing yards and two touchdowns. However, the deficit was simply too much. Final score: Colorado 39, Texas 37. The national championship was gone, but the exaltation had begun.

Based on his performance in that game, Applewhite started the Holiday Bowl game against Washington. After 473 passing yards and four touchdowns, Applewhite played his last game for Texas. It was his very best, as Texas won, 47-43.

In postgame interviews, Applewhite refused to point to himself. He gave God the credit, quoted Scripture and kept talking about how great all of his teammates were. Because he was willing to spend his senior season in the oven of adversity without giving in to bitterness and slander, God exalted him at the proper time.

Are you facing adversity? If not, sometime soon you probably will. How will you feel? How will you act? Trust in the Lord and He will exalt you at the proper time. And by the way, “the proper time” won’t be your time. “The proper time” will always be His time. God bless.

— Mike Sublett, Pastor of Hi-Land Christian Church, Pampa, Texas

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