This blog is not just about football. It’s about life. However, this lesson comes from a recent football experience. (Hang in there with me.)
If you’re a Seahawks or Packers fan, I know where you were from about noon to 3 p.m. last Sunday. You were watching the NFC championship game. For me, it was 57 minutes of torture. The Hawks were horrible. After the game, it was called one of “the ugliest, unlikeliest, and all-around most fantastic NFC championship games in recent memory.”
My wife walked in with about five minutes left in the game, and I told her the Seahawks’ season was over. Turn out the lights. Another dream dashed. Another previous Super Bowl team one and done.
If you missed it, here are the highlights (and lowlights): Russell Wilson threw four interceptions; there was an onside kick recovered off a guy’s head by a reserve wide receiver who has been cut by the Seahawks twice (who’s also never caught an NFL pass); and a punter threw a do-or-die fourth-down touchdown that shocked everybody.
The game was wacky, weird and ultimately wonderful (unless you’re a Packers fan).
Here’s what I noticed, some 12th man fans decided to leave the game early when the Seahawks were down 15 points with fewer than 3 minutes left in the game. They probably paid hundreds of dollars for seats inside the stadium. However, they ended up watching one of the most incredible fourth-quarter comebacks in NFL history from behind glass walls outside the stadium as the Hawks scored 15 points in the final 2:09 minutes of regulation play.
Moral of this story: True fans don’t leave the stands because true fans never give up.
Sometimes we humans tend to be such fickle followers.
We cheer and root and wave the flag . . . until our heroes fail.
We scream in utter delight . . . until someone lets us down, and then we yell at him or her in disgust.
We’ll stay for 57 minutes, enduring the agony and the rain . . . until we give up, shake our heads and decide we’ve had enough.
I know, the majority of fans didn’t physically leave the stands, but I wonder how many of them emotionally gave up and lost faith.
So what? What does this have to do with real life on planet Earth where football is just a game?
I wonder how many of us give up on a friend who’s failed us one too many times because we think he or she is hopeless?
I wonder how many give up on their marriage thinking, “It’s never going to change”?
I wonder how many of us give up on a pastor or a church when it seems they just can’t get it together, and we’ve grown tired of waiting?
But what if . . . . ?
What if that friend is just one more chance away from real life change?
What if your marriage is just one or two miracles away from a radical transformation?
What if your pastor or church has struggled for 57 minutes (or 57 weeks), and yet God is about to do something that only He can do, and it’s going to be awesome?
True friends don’t give up on friends. True spouses don’t walk away when it seems like it’s over. True parishioners don’t throw in the towel and trade “teams” when they’re hurting or disappointed.
True fans stay in the stands. True friends and spouses stay the course. True partners in a community of faith demonstrate the spiritual fruits of forbearance and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).
Because God’s specialty is the miraculous! Read the Book. Apparently, He delights in taking situations and people who seem hopeless and throwing them a Hail Mary pass that wins the game.
Maybe it’s time to learn the art of stick-to-it-iveness and not to give up so easily? Maybe it’s time to go beyond being a conditional fan to becoming fanatical about faithfulness.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged
because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him,
for there is a greater power with us than with him.”
2 Chronicles 32:7 (NIV)