On my last journey to Madagascar to visit with our brethren there, I happened into an unusual situation. The 2019 African Cup of Nations football tournament was in full swing. (This was not American football. It would be called “soccer” in America, but the entire rest of the world knows it as “football.”) What was unusual was the fact that the Malagasy team (the “Berea” or Zebus — a zebu is a steer typical of the island) had made it to the quarter-finals. This had never happened before — ever — and the people of Madagascar were beside themselves with joy! They were to play against Tunisia, a well-known, strong team, who had already won the tournament in years past. Very few really thought that they had a chance, but the fact that they had made it this far was absolutely incredible.
The capitol city, Antananarivo (called “Tana” by most), is very hilly. My hotel was on the top of a major hill, and all of the sound from the main thoroughfares below wafted up to my room. The game was scheduled for 10 pm, and the whistles, plastic trumpets blasts and blaring of car horns began much earlier. I did not watch the game, but I knew when it was over. Despite an expected defeat (3-0, Tunisia), the crowd went wild. The whistling, blowing of trumpets and horn honking went on for more than an hour after the end of the game!
These people were really excited!
I mentioned that I had not actually watched the game, which gives away the fact that I am not an ardent football fan. But for the duration of the African Cup — and I am sure much beyond — the general population of Madagascar was elated. There is, in reality, little to be excited about in this country of extreme poverty. A university professor told his class toward the end of the tournament that the games had done more to unite the country than all of the religious groups together.
What I saw and experienced was real excitement — the excitement of an entire people. That got me to thinking about what excites us. I do not pretend to compare the priceless knowledge which God has granted us to a football championship. But are we excited about the really important things in life — the things that God has shown and continues to show us?
There is, for sure, an “inner” excitement that we experience. A satisfaction at having been given so much of God’s truth. Not a satisfaction because we think we deserve it. More along the lines of “we do not deserve it, but God has granted us this knowledge anyway.” That does not make us anything special. It simply means that God has allowed us to understand some incredibly awesome and special things.
In Acts 2:46-47 we read: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” This described a time toward the beginning of the New Testament congregations. A time when the people were excited about what God had shown them; excited about what they were learning. We are not in that time. We find ourselves toward the end of this “present evil world.” But what God showed them then is the same that we can now understand in this present era. Do we look upon the truth that God gives us with “gladness and simplicity of heart”? Are we still excited about God’s way of life?
God is giving us the opportunity to see and understand His principles of life. He also allows us to see what is going on in the world. The comparison should shock us. It should make us all the more grateful for the truth of God. We can begin now in our everyday lives to actually employ these principles which will soon be disseminated among all peoples once God has sent His Son back to this earth to establish His Kingdom. Now that is exciting!