Yes, it is football season, so there must be at least one discussion posted about the sport. Living in a household of men, I am constantly surrounded by sports, watching it, hearing about it, analyzing it, and so it goes. The three- tone sound of the sports highlight notification is often heard in my house. Actually, the tones once rang out in the middle of a Sunday sermon when the phone had not been put on silent. I don't think our pastor minded much, he is also a huge college football fan.
One of the lessons that has repeated itself a few times as our sons participate in team sports is "Praise Him on and off the bucket." Several years ago, one of our sons was not getting the time on the field that he thought he should be. It is humbling to do all the workouts, give the effort at practice and yet sit the bench. Sometimes it is not a a lack of skill, but a lesson in waiting for your turn. Upper class men, who are usually larger and more experienced may play more, and freshmen must wait their turn. This year on my son's football team, there is a freshman who is part of the JV team, but is also allowed to suit up for varsity games as backup and to gain experience. In stature the freshman may be a mouse, but at heart, he is a lion. My son, a junior is much taller, often stands next to this player between plays. It is big contrast in elevation, but such a sweet picture as my son encourages his teammate.
During the final few minutes of several games, our coaching staff will make third string and JV substitutions. if the score provides a safe buffer. On two such occasions the nod has been given to this freshman to take the field. While I am happy that our coaches give opportunities to the younger players, I cringe a little when they run onto the field because the opposing team's varsity players typically tower over these younger students. Twice this season, when this particular freshman has taken the field, he has made a significant contribution despite his size or the strength of the opponent. One game he caught an interception, then the other night he courageously stopped a break away run toward the goal. This young football player demonstrates a great lessons for us all, athletes, lawyers, cafeteria workers, and stay at home moms...
Praise the LORD, on or off the bucket. Whatever you are doing, and when things do not appear to be going as you would like, sitting on a bucket in the dughout or standing on the sideline while others are on the field, praise Him anyway. To wear the uniform and be part of something bigger than yourself, a member of God's family, is an honor and a gift, so give the LORD your gratitude. More often we are called to be encouragers of others, even though it may be more fun to be the star, you will glorify your Father in Heaven when you cheer for others. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:24,31-32 NIV
Be ready for tough times. My son's football team has a wonderful coaching staff that spends great time and effort teaching nutrition, strength and conditioning. Many times games have been won because our players had the endurance to last through a tough battle. Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Jeremiah 1:17 NIV Knowing tough battles are a fact of live, we should prepared, motivated and covered in the LORD's armor, Ephesians 6:10-18. Nothing is too difficult for a soldier of the LORD, so be prepared and willing to contribute to the team when called upon.
Someone is always watching. Help your children remember that whatever they are doing, wherever they are, when competing in a sport, playing in the band, sitting on the sideline or in the stands, people will notice their behavior and make judgments, good or bad. Our actions speak louder than the words we say, and these actions give testimonies about the kind of person we are, the school our children attend, and most importantly about our God. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 7-8 NIV
Our young football player stands expectantly on the sideline most games, but he is ready, helmet on, and willing to sprint onto the field the moment the coach calls his name. Are we ready to serve our God like this? Helmet on, sword drawn, shield up?
Although he may not know it, the LORD is being glorified by his attitude, on and off the field because spectators, coaches, and his teammates are watching. He has the heart of a lion, the lion of Judah.
Mighty Lord of Heavenly Armies, I ask for Your divine guidance as we teach our children to compete with honor, courage and faith. Please bless all the teachers, coaches and parents who work with athletes and students. Provide them with Your wisdom, patience and understanding for our youth. May good sportsmanship abound as our children learn to work diligently to PLAY games that teach life lessons for Your glory. When our children do not accomplish goals that have been set by man, may we encourage them to face a new day with You as Lord, Architect and Perfecter of our faith on or off the bucket! May You be glorified in their actions, words and deeds, on and off the field. Amen.