How to Live Life Without an (*)

If you are a sports fan (or your husband is) you know the importance sports records hold with fans. I have heard many animated discussions over the records of players, especially in the sport of baseball.

A relatively new phenomenon related to sports records, however, is the introduction of the asterisk (*).  An asterisk next to a player’s or a team’s name in the record books indicates that, yes, a record or win was achieved, but it was tainted in some way, be it character issue, drug use, rule breaking, or some other behavior that gave the player an unfair advantage or impacted the sport’s reputation.

Players are held to a high standard of both written and unwritten rules to the point that the actions of the players, on and off the field, can affect the sport itself.  In the words of one sports writer, “If you break a rule you’ve tarnished the game’s legacy as well as your own.”[1]

Within Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, we read the records of lives lived by those who were seeking God, yet many of these records have “asterisks” beside their names in the form of one little word… “But”.

Consider just a few of these records:


Because of his disobedience at Kadesh (Num 20), God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land. Instead, God said, “I will give it to your descendants. I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”  Deut 34:4)

The Children of Israel

God gave the children of Israel His command to “drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places” (Num 33:52). Then in Judges, where each tribe’s conquest is recorded, we read repeatedly, “…but they did not drive out …” some of the inhabitants (Jdgs 1).

And then there were the Kings

During the reign of Judah’s kings there were many who followed hard after God. But remember God’s command mentioned above? When reading about each king’s life, we often find phrases such as “[The King] did what was right in the sight of the Lord . . . But the high places were not taken away.” (1 Kgs 15:14; 2 Kgs 2:1-3) He did right, BUT, he did not do all that was asked.

How do we as women spend the entirety of our lives seeking God and finish without any “buts”? How do we avoid having God put an asterisk (*) beside our names in His records book?

1 .  Settle what I believe about the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

A player in sports recognizes that the rule book governs his sport and he submits himself to its authority. God’s Word is my “rule book” for life and I must settle whether I truly recognize its authority …. and sufficiency … over my life.

* Do I believe ALL of Scripture is the word of God?

* Do I believe that ALL of Scripture is divinely inspired?

* Do I believe that ALL of Scripture is inerrant – that it is TRUTH without any mixture of error?

If so, then I must take it all and understand what it all means for me today. I cannot pick and choose what I follow and what I don’t.

2 .  Know the rule book.

Ignorance of the law is no defense. Players are expected to know the rules of the game. They may not know all the nuances, ways, and skills needed to play the game – that comes with growth, training, and maturity.

But, they must know the rules. When an NFL player is drafted, the first thing placed in his hands is the rule book and he is expected to read it from cover to cover. God has given us His rule book for how to walk through life. If we don’t know His Word, how then can we follow His Word.

3 .  Commit to align my life under the authority of Scripture.

Admittedly, there are some unusual rules in sports. And sometimes, players may question why a certain rule is in place. What a player does not have the right to do is proclaim, “I don’t like that rule and so I am not going to follow it.” As hard as it can be sometimes, I must commit to align myself under the teaching and authority of Scripture…ALL of Scripture.

If God’s Word says it, then, by God’s help, I must do all I can to live my life according to the Word of God — regardless of how the world, my family, my church, or even I may try to convince me otherwise.

4.  Remember, I am not the exception to the rule.

Just because a player might be a “star player” performing above and beyond anyone else in his sport, he never becomes exempt from the rules. Likewise, Scripture rarely gives exceptions to God’s commands. I may think I am a superstar for God, but I still must submit to all that God’s Word says.

Honestly, remembering this keeps me humble. I can never overwrite, trump, or edit what the Author of the rule book has written.

We can learn from the lives of faithful followers in Scripture. Try it this week. When you read your Bible, keep your eyes open for the “buts,” the asterisks (*), so to speak. There is much to be learned from the little 3-letter word.

I don’t know about you, but years from now, if someone were to read God’s record of my life, I don’t want any “buts” there. Nor do I want to stand before His throne and hear the words, “Well done, but …”




2 thoughts on “How to Live Life Without an (*)”

  1. Hi, Terri, this is an AhHa moment of thoughts. The asterisk’s effect in life do get somewhat a pause or the phrase; do you remember the moment. We make mistakes in life and within the Christian Communities or sure I say Church Folks seems to put a label on the past of a person life or that do you remember the moment in front of the name. We all try to live by the rule book and the important one is the rule book of God. It always amazes me when there are people in life who would rather destroy their reputation than to do right by the rules of the governorship meaning whatever job or organization they are with. The asterisk’s of life moments God will not hold that against us if we from our heart have a true repentance. I think with that our life book will not put the asterisk and but in front of our name. I thank my lucky soul daily that I will not be judged by man but by God alone. Thank you for the words you send out to us. It gives us something to think about and really to better ourselves in whatever situations in our own lives and lives of others. God Bless You and keep on keeping us on the true path.

    1. Terri Stovall says:

      Terrie, Thanks for the comment and great “Ah Ha” thought. It is a good reminder that if we have made decisions, done something, or experienced those asterisk life moments, that doesn’t have to be a permanent mark. A repentant heart and God’s forgiveness is a pretty good eraser. Good stuff there!