Monday, January 28, 2013

Every day is Superbowl Sunday

  With the Superbowl coming quickly, I have to say that I absolutely love the game of football. As much as many would see this as an enormous waste of time, I've been known to watch 4 games per week on a fairly regular basis. Every year seems to flow in the same general direction for me. After following their moves during the offseason, preseason begins, and I get excited about my team's chances. Sometimes they do well, other times not so much. But when the Superbowl has been played, and the season comes to an end, I always feel a sense of loss the following Sunday. I'll leave church Sunday morning thinking about what I'll do for the rest of the day. Laugh if you must, but it's a fairly traumatic experience for me.
   As odd as it may sound, it always takes me a few weeks to adjust. I'll find myself looking up predictions for the upcoming NFL Draft, when every team selects a small number of players they want from the college ranks. Behind the scenes, throughout the entire year, NFL scouts watch these players. They study their skills and select the players they believe will best help them become a better team.
   On every team, you will see more than just a collection of players. What you notice as you watch the games is that every player on every team has a very specific set of skills. Some are great blockers, some are great tacklers, some are lightning-fast and can outrun everyone else on the field, and others can throw the ball with incredible accuracy. The teams they play for knew exactly what these players were capable of long before they selected them. More often than not, they've watched the progress of these players for a number of years before asking them to join the team.

   The main object of the game of football is very simple. Score points, keep your opponent from scoring, and win games. Along with that comes many years of preparation, studying the fundementals of the positions played, pushing your body to make it stronger and faster, and more practice than most of us could possibly imagine.
   Every play doesn't result in a touchdown, nor does every game end with a win. The vast majority of players in the NFL will never play in a Superbowl, much less win one. But the training and fundementals are consistent and continual throughout their entire NFL careers.

   One thing that is common of all Superbowl-winning teams is that every player on those teams knew exactly what their role was, and they filled that role to the best of their ability. While doing so, they played as a team, each of them contributing their skills within the framework of the positions played. They won together - with many contributers, but as one team.

   Our faith, and what we do with it over the course of our lives, is very similar. Not all of us have the ability to get up on a stage and speak in ways that move others. Not all of us have the ability to serve in ways that help the needy. Not all of us can sing or play musical instruments. Not all of us have the ability to counsel others. Not all of us have the ability to love others in such a way that it literally changes lives.

   We all have different skills, gifts, and abilities, but together as the church, we are one.

   As believers, we were also "drafted" into whatever "team" we play for. We all attend various churches for various reasons, but we were all brought to those churches by God Himself to fulfill a specific role or purpose. If played correctly, those roles extend far beyond the church walls, and work their way into our workplace, our homes, and our communities.

   As is true with NFL players, we were also watched long before we were drafted. Our lives were the training grounds, and by living them out we were taught the fundementals.

   We were chosen, selected, and called. But we weren't selected by a team or a coach. We were selected by the Creator of all things. He's never had a "draft-day bust," where He selected a player He thought would do well only to cut him later because he couldn't perform.

   The beauty of playing for His team is that, although we can't always see it with our human eyes, every play results in a touchdown and every game ends with a win. Why? Because on a spiritual level, every sincere effort we make to do His will in our lives is empowered by Him to accomplish exactly what He intended to be accomplished at that moment.

   Sometimes it's very hard to keep that kind of perspective alive in our hearts and minds, but it's always true. Every effort we make, no matter how small it may seem, has eternal value. We may not be the one dancing in the end zone, but we could very well throw the block that allowed our teammates to do so. And if we play for His team, we will all eventually find ourselves dancing in the end zone of eternity.