I’ve been living exciting days. My oldest just entered the teens (and rocked a “100” score on her big Amelia Earhart presentation last week), my #2 starts football this weekend, my #3 is hysterically funny, hard-headed and tender-hearted, and my youngest is coming along. If you know him, you know what I mean.
Yep, besides that episode of Cops that played out in the middle of night last night in my neighborhood, I’d say that life is pretty flippin’ sweet.
Let me backtrack. My #2 is starting football this weekend. He’s never played on a team before. He’s never played a sport before. Any sport. He has zero experience in football. And I’m not too ashamed to say that even as a grown man, when other guys are talking about games, players, trades, stats, and other sporty guy stuff, I’m probably silently thinking about how I don’t know what they’re talking about and how I think the wall color would really look nice in MY living room.
And about football: I know that the team is supposed to get the ball into the endzone. I know that the quarterback throws, the receivers receive, and the kickers kick. I know that a team gets 4 downs to get a first down. I know that the “center” goes in the center. I think. I don’t know what a “free safety” is or what he does or if I just made up that name by mistake.
And believe it or not, I shared much the same sentiments when I recently spoke on the phone to the director of the league my son will be playing in. The funny thing is, he called back a few days later and asked me to consider being an Assistant Coach. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but the words “underqualified”, “ignorant” and “joke” were peppered throughout my response. But I wrapped it up with a nice bow and said, “It’s not a matter of desire–its a matter of know-how.” Quite honestly, being the Assistant Coach means that if the Coach gets assassinated, guess who takes the reins? And for someone who doesn’t know a hash line from a punch line, the thought of coaching a football team just made me throw up a little bit.
But I couldn’t help but catch a teeny-weeny compliment squeezed into our exchange on the phone, me and this man I’ve yet to meet. I think I heard him say, “I really like your heart.” This particular league is focused on all kids having fun, learning the game, sportsmanship, and everyone getting a chance to be a star. So to him, my blatant ignorance of the game of football takes a back seat to my desire for my own son and all kids to have a good time playing a game.
–Here comes the part when I flip it and connect it to a spiritual application. If you’ve had fun so far, but aren’t interested in the next part…well, thanks for stopping by. Don’t let that “X” in the corner of the screen hit you on the way out.—
As a man who knows, loves, and follows Jesus, and as a man who loves those who do the same, and as a man who loves those who don’t; I think we (Jesus’ followers) would be very wise to take a lesson from the heartbeat of this football league my son and I are about to totally wreck. If ministry were more about filling the field with players than the stands with spectators, and if discipleship were less about one quarterback and more about ___ receivers, and if loving God were less about doing it right and more about doing it at all….I’m fairly certain we’d have and we’d be the kind of people that the world needs instead of the kind of people the world looks sideways at; thinking we’re all about numbers, or money, or being right, or pointing out sin, or any other number of things associated with the religion of Christianity.
Suppose that as Jesus’ followers we could recognize in each other “I really like your heart” and let other lesser things play “c-string”, if at all. What if we focused on the powerful positive poised to pounce out of my life and into yours and out of your life into mine and out of our lives into His. What if instead of a safe “button-hook” play, we just decided to “go long”. Okay, enough football catch phrases.
I can guarantee that this weekend, while I’m cheering on my son in his very first practice followed immediately by his very first game (*gulp*), I’m going to be thinking in the back of my mind about how I might also cheer others on as they play hard on the field of faith.