This Football is Back video? That I can watch. It gets my football blood pumping!
But Clemson football? I confess I love it so much that I can’t watch it.
How pathetic is that?
I confess that last season I often sat in a movie theater during a game instead of in the stadium or in front of my TV cheering my Tigers on.
Yes, I’m appropriately horrified and ashamed.
I just couldn’t stand the stress of a close game.
Give me a blowout any day! (I’m talking about where we blow out the other team, NOT vice versa. Those are just dumb.)
But because I’m committing to being conformed to Christ through football, starting this season, I commit to watching the Tigers play live — not just on my DVR after I know they’ve won.
Or rather, I should say, starting this weekend.
I didn’t actually get to see the Clemson – UGA game. Did they play? I haven’t heard.
Just kidding! Believe me, I heard! I saw the clips, I picked my chin up off the ground, and I mourned. Good game, UGA. Just wait ’til last year!
While I didn’t see the game, it wasn’t my usual nerves or whimpiness that kept me from watching, however. It was because, as much as I love my Tigers, I love my daughter even more.
I stood on the sidelines her soccer tournament cheering her on instead.
Are you concerned that I need to get over this football obsession and move onto issues of life that really matter?
Are you thinking: Surely God doesn’t care about football?
Au contraire! I maintain He does.
How can God not care about something that builds perseverance and character, exposes our faith as well as the object of our faith, and unearths our pride and shapes our humility?
And I’m not even talking about the players — I’m talking about the fans!
On top of all that, we get to wear outlandish outfits and eat great food!
Now I am talking about the players. (I don’t know what to think about the Steelers’ bumble bee/elf uniforms.)
It’s a win-win, unless of course we lose.
We lose, not when the scoreboard declares it, but when our heart does.
When our heart demands a victory on the scoreboard to feel victorious, then we’ve really lost.
And that’s why I think God cares about football, but perhaps not in the same way I do.
I’ve just wanted my Tigers to win and never feel the pain of loss. I’ve wanted the easy path for our players and coaches – and myself.
I’ve changed my mind, though.
Not about winning, but about the path to get there.
I still want my Tigers to win, but not more than I want them to become men of godly character who learn to fully trust God and praise Him in the victories and the losses.
I want them to have a successful season, but not more than I want them to be drawn to the Lord and conformed into the image of Christ.
Who’s to say, but God, what path will draw them and conform them more?
I’m going to celebrate each win with ecstatic joy!
I’m also going to embrace the losses — yes, I actually said embrace — because I know that God has a good purpose for the losses in their lives, as well as in mine.
It’s all about growing in faith and learning to ensure that the object of our faith remains God, not other things, like football – and that’s why I’m committed to watching Clemson football this season.
It sounds like I’m stretching it here to rationalize my spending time and money on a bunch of guys chasing after an oblong ball for bragging rights – and if you read my post, Love & Hate: Confessions of a Fanatic Fan Conformed to Christ Through Football, you know I don’t even like “bragging rights.”
I’m not being flippant. I’m actually serious.
Football is a safe spiritual training ground.
Safe for me, that is. I’m sitting in the stands, not facing a Defensive Line.
– and I need to be trained.
We all do!
Think about it:
If I’m not willing to trust God with any and every result of a football game, how likely will I be to trust Him about something that actually, really matters in my life?
Whether Clemson wins or loses matters in Dabo Swiney’s life – it’s called job security vs unemployment.
Clemson’s win-loss record changes Dabo’s life, but it doesn’t change one thing in mine.
And even Dabo can rest in the losses, because God remains sovereign in his life. God will never fail him.
How can I preach embracing God’s sovereignty, but live in dread of a possible loss and wallow in it when it comes?
I’m thankful to God for my football obsession, because to me, it’s a gracious gift that God has allowed me to have something as unimportant to my livelihood and happiness as football to conform me into Christlikeness.
God could be using cancer – He has. I lost my mom to cancer.
We could be facing an outbreak of Ebola in our community, or another terrorist attack on our shores.
If I can’t handle the team I love losing a football game, how can I hope to handle a terrorist attack on the country I love?
I think the apostle Paul would have loved football, but I I think he would have told me to get a grip — and a proper perspective.
Then I think he would have told me the secret of being content while facing plenty of wins or being hungry for a victory, whether in the abundance, or the need, of strength.
The secret is Christ.
When our contentment is in Christ, not the scoreboard, we can face anything — including a loss, even a big loss.
We can face sickness, terrorism, unemployment, and any fearful thing!
“Not that I am speaking of being in need,
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low,
and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance,
I have learned the secret of
facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Understanding and living out the secret to being content will be what brings us through the real trials in life and bring praise and glory to God – and that’s all that really matters!
Yes, football is just a game, but it can make a real difference when I entrust even football into God’s hands to shape and conform me to Christ.
Because of my desire to look more like Christ and less like me every day, I’m excited to watch even the close games this season — not because I like close games, but because I like conformity to Christ.
I can watch Clemson play any team anywhere because the results that matter are the matters of the heart, not the scoreboard.
When our heart finds itself fulfilled in Christ, that’s when we really win!
Have your way with me, O Lord!
If you haven’t read my Love & Hate post, I hope you will. I think it’s an important message:
Another post you football fans will enjoy is:
From a small Nigerian village to the NFL record books, and now Medical School, Samkon Gado is doing the “impossible.” (I wrote this article for “Reach Out, Columbia” magazine.)
For all you Clemson Fans — as well as fans who want to be conformed to Christ Through Football — check out Tajh Boyd’s Blog: Tajh Boyd Talks.
Tajh shares what God has been teaching him through his football journey, as well as other insights football fans will enjoy.
Football isn’t the only way God’s been conforming me into the image of Christ. Check out these other posts:
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