The University of Michigan football team plays at the University of Iowa tonight. It brings back memories of the time I sat in Kinnick stadium in Iowa City on a bright Saturday afternoon in the late 1970’s. My good friend and Iowa Hawkeye supporter, Gerald Paardekooper, had treated me to the Michigan vs. Iowa football game. (I need to point out that this was during the time when Bo Shembechler had the Michigan team in the forefront of college football and before Hayden Fry came to Iowa and transformed the “Herky the Hawk” Iowa team into a successful college football team. The U of Iowa, in those days, was not a very good team.
At one point in the game, Iowa had the ball and they ran a “sweep” around the left end. A sweep is when the ball carrier is preceded by a wave of blockers. Unfortunately for Iowa, one Michigan player wiped out all the blockers and tackled the running back for a loss. To do that, he had to “sell out” on the play. Casting everything aside he flung himself at the Iowa players and made the play. For one player to not only take down the blockers but the running back as well, was an outstanding play!
I thought of that day when I titled my second book, “Sell Out”. My first book, “Acquisition”, dealt with the acquisition of a company. Many of my readers assumed that the second book was about selling the company. Others thought the title meant that someone in the story had betrayed their friends or associates for personal gain. Both of those definitions were partially true. But, I was thinking about another definition. The real message I was trying to convey in the story was the need for the main character, Wilson McCann, to “sell out” to God, the woman who loves him and his company by making and keeping commitments to them in that order…faith, family and company.
The Bible, in Mark 12:30, relates Jesus’ conversation with the teachers of the law who ask him which was the most important commandment. Jesus replied as follows:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
And with all your soul
And with all your mind
And with all your strength.
I think Jesus was telling them that one has to “sell out” to God! To love with all your heart and soul and mind and strength means you must cast everything else aside and go all out for God.
There have been many times in my life when I was faced with a choice as to whether I would remain true to God’s calling or sacrifice some part of my relationship with Him in support of personal gratification or gain or to free myself from some potentially difficult situation. I can’t say that I always chose wisely in that moment but when I did, God did amazing things with the situation. Like the Michigan football player, I made “the big play” when I remained “sold out” to God.
Selling out to something, or someone, in my opinion, means that you are willing to give your all and sacrifice everything that you are or have. Jesus asks us to “sell out” to God…to love Him with everything we’ve got!
I have never played football but I think that Michigan player experienced two things that day. He had the joy of knowing that his willingness to sacrifice himself had brought a big success. Later in the day, he may have experienced the bodily pain that comes with throwing your body at a group of other bodies without reservation. That is how it is with Jesus’ challenge to us. The world does not always look with favor on those who give God first place in their lives. Selling out to God may result in relational, financial or even physical pain. But, even when there is a painful aftermath of giving God ones all, there is an inner, deeper satisfaction in experiencing His love.
Selling out is not easy. Commitments are easy to make and hard to keep. We can rejoice in Jesus’ reply to the teacher of the law when the teacher shows good understanding of the commandment:
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him,
You are not far from the kingdom of God.
I want to keep my commitment to love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. How about you? Are you “sold out” to God?