Friday, January 30, 2015

Fun, Faith, and (Super Bowl) Football


Football time. Ready for the Big Game?
The Game.  It is coming!  The preparations have been ongoing for months, even years.  Some players have trained from their youth for this very day, hopeful of a ring, trophy, and the monetary rewards from their achievement.  Their daily habits during this time have included strength training, studying their opponent, studying their game plans, listening to their coach, eating proper foods for health and nutrition, and enduring a string of preliminary games.  They are the two remaining teams from a great number of players eliminated throughout the process.  There will be viewers from around the globe watching every move.  Even the commercials are highly anticipated and costly for this event.

My thoughts of a game include ‘fun”, so it is hard for me to imagine the fun of being hit, perhaps injured, trash-talked, and facing an opponent who wants me to lose.  I understand the fun of achievement, but just don’t have the competitive urge to "win" at the cost of someone else losing.  Obviously, it’s just me, because so many enjoy it. So, I’ll not belabor the point, or criticize your competitive spirit.   

While I may be lacking the competition gene, I have certainly noticed a correlation to the preparations of these athletes, and the life of a Christian.  From the moment we become a child of God, the focus of our lives change. Our lives focus on an “end-game” which dictates all our “in-between games”.   We will not be distracted by things or forces that encourage us to go against our goal.   We leave behind the things in our lives that deter our progress toward reaching the end game (even though they provide a temporary “fun”) and we take up new habits.  We learn to press on, for the goal, the prize being the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!  We will endure the training process with joy, knowing our reward will far outweigh our times of testing here.

1) Our coach is perfect in every way.  He knows us far better than we even know ourselves.  He knows the position we need to play and how to bring out the best in us for that unique position.  He knows our every strength and weakness, and teaches us how to develop the talents He has given us.  He pushes and pulls us into shape for the game, by building our strength and endurance bit by bit.  We can fully trust Him to act in our best interest, and thus never need to question what He asks us to do. 

2) We must study our plays and game plan.  We have a definite offence and defense.  We need learn how to use them correctly.  He has given us a vast playbook that includes the many who have gone before us.  Some failed miserably, some excelled.  We can learn from that.  Our book also includes glimpses into the end game and its rewards that follow.  We also see within it, the result of our failure to submit to the coach and his instructions and the eternal consequences following that disobedience. 

3) Studying our opponent is also highly valuable.  We recognize our Coach who teaches us the truth, but we also find our opponent is an adversary and will “trash talk” us into believing something that is not true or that distracts us from our job and final goal.  Opponents will try to outmaneuver us, overpower us, and drain our strength.  Our job is to be well trained enough to overcome their efforts, and finish strong. 

4) If we are to be strong enough to do that, we have to fill ourselves with proper nutrition.  Feeding on trivial pursuits, or junk food will not build strength and faith.  Our race is hard, filling ourselves with His Word will give us the strength we need for the training.

Vast crowds are cheering on the players.  Some are on the sidelines, some are in the stands and some are watching from screens far away.  We too are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  We have those near and far watching our struggles and cheer us on.  In turn, we should be cheering and encouraging others in the arena too! We offer praise to participants and the coach.  Go! You can do it!  You have been trained and equipped!  Play your best!  Go for the goal!

Father, we thank You for choosing us.  We thank You for equipping us and training us.  Thank You for showing us everything we need to reach the end game as winners of the greatest prize.  Help us to fix our eyes on the goal and run the race with endurance, mindful that many are watching.  Help us follow Your instructions carefully and fully as we seek to fill the position in which You have placed us and for which You have created us.  We know that with You as our coach and trainer, nothing will overcome us!