I've never played football. Shocking, I know. In fact, if that doesn't discredit me enough, I didn't know much about how the game was played—aside from when someone scored—until I was in my 20s. Working with student-athletes over the past decade, however, has helped me to learn the game in a remarkable way. And let me tell you, high school football in Texas is no joke!
I still remember the game where it all clicked for me. It was 2012 and the Garland High School Owls were facing off against their long-time rival, the South Garland Colonels. It was the game of all games. Most came into the stadium with the belief that Garland had this in the bag. But to everyone's surprise, South was giving them a run for their money. Garland stepped out in front with a strong lead. Ja'taveon "Taetae" Green ran for some major yards and helped the Owls achieve their 34-25 win over the Colonels.
I can't remember the exact details, but towards the end of the game, the Owls gave a try for a two-point conversion and got it. I remember coming out of my seat with chills from head to toe. This was the first time I felt like I was actually "in the game." Until then, I had just been sitting in the stands.
About three years ago I got my hands on my first sideline pass for our school district. This meant that I could walk down and be with the players during the game. The smells were foul and the language fouler. But if you ever want to feel what real passion is like, stand in the middle of fifty football players as their team wins the district championship. It's contagious.
Blood, sweat, and tears were literally shed. There is nothing like it; it's amazing. To be able to celebrate with and encourage the kids as they played was, and is, such a privilege. There were a few times though, when things weren't going quite as planned. Tempers would flair and on the rarest of occasions, helmets and fists would fly too.
The sideline is full of emotions and unsure thoughts. But one thing was true most of the time...it was a safe place. A place where hurt players could get bandaged up and coaches could shout strategies before the guys hit the field. The sideline was a place of preparation.
"...if you ever want to feel what real passion is like, stand in the middle of fifty football players as their team wins..."
A sacred and hallowed ground. Only eleven players from each side allowed on at once. Everyone having their own unique talent and position, all with a singular goal: win the game. They have practiced, run plays, and conditioned their bodies for this moment. All eyes are on the field. It's the place where amazing victories and unprecedented defeats happen. But you can't always control what happens on the field; all you can do is just give it everything you've got.
A game is not strictly offense or defense; it's both. Drives down a field are not done the same way every time. The offense and defense go out, one after another, running plays the coaches believe will win the game. Most players are not on the field for both offense and defense. In fact, sometimes players, like long-snappers and kickers, are not seen very often at all, but their job is of the utmost importance. When the lights are on, you have to give it everything you've got and hold nothing back.
Throughout history, God has been writing a grand metanarrative. He's been weaving together individuals and their stories from every walk of life and every background, using them to drive his mission forward. Folks in the Bible you may have heard of, like Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul. God has also used modern-day individuals—William Seymour, Charles Spurgeon, Aimee McPherson, and D.L. Moody.
Each of these players stepped on the field with intention and determination. Each played different roles but all had the same goal: to make The LORD known to The World. No matter how big or small their role might have been, when the lights are on, you have to give it everything you've got and hold nothing back.
"Throughout history, God has been writing a grand metanarrative. He's been weaving together individuals and their stories from every walk of life and every background..."
The Lights are on!
You and I are alive during one of the greatest times in human history. There has never been a time where the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be spread around the world in such a way as it can be now. It would certainly be easy to sit on the sideline and watch as evangelists, pastors, preachers, and teachers we all know and love pour their hearts out on Sunday while we go home to the comfort and safety of the sideline. God is calling us to be in the game!
Trust me, I know the game can be scary sometimes. You don't know if you're going to get hurt, it's hard to tell if you're going to win or lose, and it's difficult to know what to do next. This is what the sideline is actually for. Get bandaged up, get the next play under your belt, and get out there! If you win, God gets the glory; if you lose, guess what? God still gets the glory.
But don't sit on the sideline in fear, depriving God of the glory that He is due through us. Get in the game!
Until next time.