I have two brackets filled out for the NCAA March Madness Tournament this year. One of them is just a bracket that I filled out on line. The other one is part of a group of guys who all filled out a bracket, put ten dollars in a kitty, and the guy with the winning bracket gets to take the money and buy pizza for everyone at the end. Guess which bracket I'm paying the most attention to.
That bracket and the games it represents wouldn't mean much to me though if I hadn't invested something of value into it. Even though it will probably just turn into a ten dollar pizza lunch for me, I still approach it with more intensity and I find myself caring a lot about who wins each game. Last weekend my championship team (mascot is a blue devil and they rhyme with puke) got knocked out of the tournament in the second round and I had to keep telling myself that it really doesn't matter because right then it seemed to matter a whole lot!
Before you tell me to call 1-800-BETS OFF, I'll admit that I'm overstating my reaction a little to make a point.
The point is something that Jesus said one day. He dropped this simple little observation about how the human heart works: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Or maybe another way of saying it would be to say that our loves and our values are inseparable. We can claim to love someone or something but if we treat them with carelessness, our actions betray our true loves. Show me what someone makes the greatest sacrifices for and I'll show you what they love.
Instead of just beating us all up for not having our priorities in place I want to take this a slightly different direction. Think about how much you are loved and valued, that God would send His only Son to suffer and die a horrible death, for your sake! Nobody will ever make a greater sacrifice for you than God did.
Those days when you feel like a failure and think that nobody cares: those are the days when you need to re-visit the cross and let the impact of God's love, poured out for you, wash away the self-pity and feelings of uselessness. You'll never find a love like that from a person or an object.
You are loved by God today and for the rest of your life!