G.O.A.T. This acronym is used to abbreviate “Greatest Of All Time.” Most recently, it has repeatedly been used with reference to Tom Brady, an American football (gridiron) player. For 21 seasons, this NFL quarterback has consistently proven to be the G.O.A.T. Unfortunately, some other quarterbacks are viewed, well, as goats. Rather than leading their teams to victory, they too often contribute to their defeat. One individual who was often treated like a “goat” was NFL player Vinny Testaverde.
I remember watching him play for the University of Miami. He was a standout. He also played professionally for 21 seasons. And though he was faithful, he was not that successful. One reason is that he was colour blind. When you are supposed to throw the football to a player in one colour, but you throw to the team wearing another colour, well, that’s not so good. Unfortunately, Testaverde set records doing this! He was therefore considered by many to be a goat, not a G.O.A.T.
Testaverde, in my view, was unfairly, and even at times cruelly, treated by sports commentators and fans. He was playing with a huge handicap. In his defence, to play with this kind of handicap for 21 seasons, well, he must have been worth the risk and the money.
Anyway, colour blindness can make life additionally difficult. It did for Testaverde, and spiritual colour blindness can be a challenge for Christians. Spiritual colour blindness can tempt us to behave like goats rather than like sheep. Let me explain.
In the beloved Psalm 23 one of God’s sheep, speaking for the rest of us, rejoices that the Lord our Shepherd “makes me lie down in green pastures.” On first glance, we might assume this is a kind of prosperity theology where our bums always fall in the proverbial butter. (Well, that is a good way to put it.) But such interpretation is wrong. Anyone who has been a Christian for a while will testify that sometimes the pastures seem to be barren and brown rather than an appetising green. When we see the pasture of our consequences as brown rather than green, we are tempted to behave like goats. We find ourselves “butting” the Lord. “Yes, Lord, but you are not giving me what I want.” “Yes, Lord, but I don’t like what you have provided.” “Yes, Lord, but this is not what I expected when I prayed about.” In other words, we are colour blind. Though God has put us in green pastures of his design, we see something else. We try to correct God and his definition of what is “green.” More than a change of pasture, we probably need a change of our vision.
Because the sovereign, covenant-keeping, always faithful and loving God has placed us in circumstances as they are, we can be sure they are green. We can be sure they are nutritious; we can be sure they are for our spiritual health; we can be sure we will be sustained. That is, we can be sure they are for our good, and for our Shepherd’s glory.
Brothers and sisters, fellow sheep, it is good to both remember and to remind one another that God has caused us to lie down in the green pasture of COVID-19 and its many ramifications. It is good to remember that, if you have been mistreated by others, you are in God’s green pasture. If you are facing financial hardship—despite what your eyes are telling you—you, my friend, are in a green pasture—and the Shepherd is right beside you. That is why it is so green!
As I was discussing Psalm 23 with a church member yesterday, for the first time I saw the truth that every pasture in which God places his sheep is green. I simply need to let Scripture adjust the eyes of my soul to see this. I hope you will as well. As we do, we will joyfully concur with the Psalmist, “I shall not want” and, therefore, “The Lord is all I want.”
Refocusing with you,