Wednesday, November 20, 2013

First Down

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entagles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not about motherhood. It’s not even about women. It’s actually about football…and people.

You see, the thing about us Christians is; we are people. And the thing about people is, we all got our issues, we all have our baggage and our trials and temptations; and despite our best efforts to overcome these, we all fall from time to time. And this is where football comes in…

My husband and I were recently given tickets to a K-State football game so we could celebrate his birthday doing one of his favorite things. He loves the game and I love him, so we both very happily left our kids behind with grandma and grandpa for a day of football. It’s not that I don’t enjoy sports- it’s all just foreign to me. I grew up in a home with all women so aside from Super Bowl Sunday (which I thought was all about the food and commercials until I became a bride), sports has never been a part of my life. Needless to say, I also know very little about the game- and I have yet to read through my “Football for Dummies” book that my groom got me for our first Christmas together (I got him a “Gift Giving for Dummies” book the following year in case you were wondering)… so bear with me here.

So, despite the fact that I had little to no clue what was actually happening during the game, I did my best to follow along and fill my hubbies lil’ love tank that day. And of course, my ever-wandering mind got the best of me. I was so startled by the fact that everyone cheered and whooped and hollered when their very own team got tackled. There I was, disappointed that the poor guy didn’t make it but a few yards, never the less all the way down the field for a touchdown, and everyone around me is clapping in excitement. I had to ask my husband (in a very small whisper, as not to embarrass him) if I was correct in my observation. Indeed I was, first down, second down, third down… every time the guy with the ball ran his little heart out to get that ball down the field- but only succeeded a few years before he got taken down- all his fans cheered. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

You see, I’m naturally someone who is hard herself. I don’t like excuses and I expect a lot out of myself- I expect a touchdown, every play. And yet, that rarely- no, that never- happens. And it struck me- that’s it. That’s exactly what our Christian life is about. It’s about the first-downs. We are so hard on ourselves when we fumble, fall, or get flat-out-knocked-off our feet by the opposing team. We get angry at ourselves that we let ourselves be vulnerable to sin again, and we question whether or not it’s worth it to get up again and try for a second-down. And that’s when we have to cheer each other on- not because we fell, but because we are that much closer to a winning play. In fact, we need the encouragement on those first downs even more than on the touchdowns- right in the middle of the hard stuff. Every first down… we need to remind ourselves that the game ain’t over yet. Get back up, get the ball, and try again, and again. Each time, learning a little more about the defensive strategy, their moves, their tactics, and our own weaknesses, so hopefully we will successfully complete the play the next time.

So wherever you find yourself today- I hope you are encouraged in knowing that the Saints up in Heaven are cheering you on, every first down you get. Because you made it that much further, that much closer to a touch down- to winning the game. To Victory. And I pray you have some Saints on earth to cheer you on down here too- I’m so overwhelmingly thankful that I do. And God isn’t surprised or even disappointed or angry when you get side-swiped by the opposing team. In fact, I believe that He will let you fall over, and over, and over again- until he has worn you into a place of utter desperation and dependence on him and him alone, and he is able to chisel out whatever lie and deceit that keeps us falling time and time again, and then we can allow Him to meet those needs, and we allow Him to deliver us. Because, I'm convinced that God is not so much concerned with removing the sin in our life, as he is concerned with getting out whatever lie is causing us to sin. He is a God who looks not upon our outward apperance or actions, but upon the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)


And sometimes, God even allows for it to look like the other team might win. He allows them possession of the ball so we can work on our defensive strategy a little bit, doesn’t He? But don’t worry- the game has already been won. But you still gotta play. Because my dear sister- the game doesn’t end at salvation, it starts at salvation. We’ve only just begun.