“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards (one who pays wages) those who earnestly seek Him.” - Hebrews 11:6
In prepping for his upcoming fight with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson was asked about his plan for the match. Holyfield was a massive underdog but behind the scenes, the edges of Tyson’s life were beginning to fray. There were rumors that Tyson wasn’t training as hard, that the string of remarkable victories had finally taken away from his desire to be the best. When asked about his plan for the fight, Tyson simply responded “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.” I was a senior in high school when the fight took place. I didn’t have access to Showtime or the money for pay-per-view so it wasn’t until the next morning that I found out that the unexplainable had happened. Tyson had in fact been hit and with it any plan for how the fight should go evaporated. Holyfield won and Mike Tyson would never reclaim the Heavyweight crown. In the years after the fight, Tyson would have none of his $300M in earnings left. His second wife would leave him followed soon after by the tragic death of his 4-year-old daughter.
Everyone has a plan until they get hit. Perhaps a softer way to say it would be most of us think we have an idea of how life will go and then life happens. Following Jesus can make things even more difficult because layered onto our plans as Christians are the promises of God, promises of blessing and “eternal life now.” When we don’t see the plan go well, when we get hit per se, when we don’t see the blessing, we’re often left with the question the Enemy always whispers to us: “Did God really say?” Sadly, my life is full of stories of devout, Jesus-loving people no longer following Him because “they got hit” by life. Perhaps worse, I know some that have decided to take a step back and now simply play it safe in their following. Lord knows I identify with the second group!
This week we are going to explore the life of Jacob. He was a man given an amazing promise at the beginning of his life only to see himself suffering in exile and indentured servitude for the next 20 years. Through it all, Jacob learned to follow whom he at first called “the God of my father” (Gen. 31:5). This following required Jacob to regularly move out from the place of comfort or safety and into the unknown. Three times in his life he left “the tents” to move into would-be exposure “in the fields.” Like us, Jacob always had a plan…until he got hit by life. What gave Jacob the faith to keep following God? What can give you or I the faith to follow…to leave our “tents” and step out into the “open fields” God has called us to? Join us this week to find out how.
Mike Townsend has been a member of Beaches Vineyard since 2000 when the church was meeting at the Ribault Garden Club. He's served our community as a volunteer or staff member for much of that time. He lives in Mayport with his wife Brooke, who was a part of the core group that planted the church. He has 3 school-aged children: Callie, Caleb and Emelia. He has spent most of the past 18 years of his life teaching young adults from Middle School to College-aged, and currently works for Duval County Public Schools as an Assistant Principal.