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Thanks to the generosity of a friend, we were able to attend the Red Wings game last night. Great seats. Great atmosphere. Great first period. But then, as has been the story for much of their season so far, their two goal lead evaporated. The game ended as a 5-3 victory for Calgary (the final goal being an open-netter with 17 seconds remaining). But it was not for a lack of effort by the winged-wheelers.

The Detroit Free Press identified the problem. Three of the Wings top six defense-men are out with injuries. The Wings are loaded with youthful rookies (and near-rookies). The three injured players are ones with experience. The Wings' season started with the same problem, then had a 20 game injury-free stretch, which was followed by what they are going through now. During that 20 game stretch they had the third best record in the NHL.

The Wings, quite simply, are undermanned. I fear the situation may be even worse for the Tigers in the upcoming season. It is the malady that generally comes with rebuilding a sports team (No, I am not going to bring the Lions into the conversation).

How fortunate we are that, in the non-games portion of our lives, we need never be undermanned. Our defense is solid with the God-man Jesus Christ. His injuries may have been fatal, but his death was not final (thank Max Lucado for that phrase). And, because of him, this is our story also.

"This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all." (1 Timothy 2.3-5)

Whether we start this new year strong, or stumble out of the gate as the Wings did back in October, the year will not be futile. God has plans for all of us this year ... and not even death can thwart his plans for you ... "plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 29.11-14)

Our help is much closer than Grand Rapids or Toledo, and our hope is not built upon next year's draft. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, and "our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 124.8) No matter how one may feel, or how the situation may appear, we are never undermanned.

And this holds true when life is going from good to better, or from bad to worse, and all the places in between. We are told simple to "seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near (which is today ... now ... ) Let us return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on us, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55.6-7)

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