More often than not, sports have a cruel way of playing with our emotions! So many times, in the midst of a big defeat we were are left with the feeling of “If only."

I’m sure many people are feeling this currently with March Madness after watching their college basketball team collapse under pressure. “If only he had made his free throws!” Not a basketball fan? Well, think back to this year's Super Bowl, “If only Cam Newton had dove on that ball!” or “If only we had had a different referee!” Well, that makes two “if only’s.” Not a Panthers fan? Think back to the previous Super Bowl, “If only the Seahawks would have run the ball, then the Devil’s Dynasty (also known as the Patriots) would have one less ring!”

For me, another time comes to mind. I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m a redneck in one area. I LOVE NASCAR! And I’m proud to admit that Dale Jr. is my favorite driver, although I’ve never seen him win while attending a race. [Before you give me a hard time, I’ve pulled for him for years now, through several bad seasons, so back off.]

At one specific race, the guys in my family had all decided to make the trip to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. The 600 is a long race, so we’re going to fast forward to 3 laps to go when Jr. took the lead. So there we were, three Taylor guys having a great time cheering for our driver as he makes the final laps in the lead. The Speedway was about to explode from all of the fans anticipating the win! Finally, the final lap, Jr. still has the lead around turns 1 and 2 with only 2 more to go! As he enters turn 3, the guy in front of us who is wearing headphones and listening to the broadcast, who happens to be a Kyle Busch fan, turns around with a HUGE grin on his face and screams, “HE’S OUT OF GAS! HAHAHA!” Sure enough, as our guy is rounding turn 4, his car stalls as he drops to the bottom of the track to avoid causing a wreck! In that instance, the speedway is as quiet as a graveyard, eerily quiet, as upward of 135,000 people watch Dale Jr. coast into a 6th place finish and begin to file out of the arena. All of his fans were in shock!

That next day didn’t get any better. In fact, it was even worse as the loss begin to sink in. My brother, being more emotionally driven, vowed that he was finished going to races. My dad and I just sat in disbelief of what we had witnessed. And to make matters worse, reports began to surface that all Dale's car needed was 2 tablespoons more of fuel to make it that distance. “If only!”

I can’t even begin to comprehend what the disciples and family of Jesus were going through. Only hours before, they had watched Jesus be celebrated. Ever so quickly, that celebration turned to hatred, which lead to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Without a doubt, they were left with that “if only” feeling. “If only Jesus had run!” or “If only Jesus had come off of the cross to show everyone who He is!” They may have started questioning if Jesus’ claims were legit.

How often do we lose sight of who Jesus is, simply because of our perception of “if only”? If Jesus had done anything differently, our future would be nowhere near as bright!

Prayer: Jesus, help me to trust in You even when I don’t understand! Help me to never lose sight of who You really are and what this temporal life on earth is for. May my relationship with you not be stunted by “if only”, but help me to rely on Your faithfulness, even when I cannot see the bigger picture.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:3-11

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 14:38-47