~~In general, I am disinterested in sports. That may be understating my feelings a bit, but I want to remain respectful of other points of view. However, my opinion is that as a society, we have sold our souls to a piece of leather. We have lost our ever-loving minds. We have made idols of men who do nothing more important than run in circles. We protect – indeed support – institutions that encourage lying, cheating, and stealing; ignore child molesters in their midst; sacrifice their own members to the degradation of their minds and bodies then cast them off like so much chaff. We know that they do these things and yet…we jump up and down, taking leave of our senses, and with painted faces like aboriginal natives worshipping our gods, scream and shout, wave our hands in the air, and make faces no one wants to see on Sunday night television, all in the name faithful fandom. Someday maybe I can share with you how I really feel, but this is not a post about sports except that football, in particular, is useful in terms of an analogy. And it’s a sport most people can follow. It’s not rocket science after all.

I was talking today with a friend of mine whose son is a friend of my son’s. There is imbedded tension in every aspect of those relationships. Both boys know that both parents talk. That means they don’t - at least not to us about each other if they can help it - but today my son shared something her son shared and I shared with her and then we shared together. And what we shared was deeper than either of us originally thought, and more troubling. And it made me despair. It seems so often that evil is winning.

Do you ever look around you and just see evil in a huddle on the other side of the field plotting a battle plan against you that can’t be defended? Trying to do this Christian thing is often like facing the giants (see what I did there?) and losing every time. I see my mom-friends blindsided (uh huh…there too) and left reeling. I start the day with a good plan and then face a blitz that I can’t push through. I see church members running well just to get clotheslined and go down hard. Marriages dropkicked. Ministries clipped. The enemy is running down the clock while we nurse our injuries on the sideline. But this is what I had to remind my friend of today: the clock is running down. The enemy might be winning right now, but it’s only the third quarter.
I have another friend who would so hate this post. She sees no reason why any Christian should believe for a minute that the enemy is winning. I want to be a Pollyanna…uh…good Christian like her, but I am far too realistic, and I’m sorry to say, sometimes evil wins. Because the game is not over. Cancer wins. Car wrecks win. Pornography wins. Adultery wins. Divorce wins. Alcohol wins. Injustice wins. Liars, cheaters, thieves, and child molesters win. (Sometimes they even set their trophies in glass cases as monuments to their glory won on the backs of innocents. ) Evil is winning, and we have not learned how to fight on the devil’s playing field. It’s time we got in the game, ice-packs and all!

Here’s how we fight. We remind ourselves that first and foremost we are saved with a salvation that is secure, and no matter how things are right now, this is not our home and we are not benched here forever. (That is one helmet that will protect your brain right there folks!) Then we suit up with a righteousness that does not cave to dirty play, no matter the temptation, and we block with a faith that GOD IS...and is for us so anything that comes at us only makes us stronger. We tuck that truth in our rosin bag and we strap it on, gumming up our hands with it so we can hang on to the ball when it comes our way, and then we run. We run with perseverance to let others know that this game is not over yet – we may be bleeding, but we’re running!  There is one Hail Mary left to hurl to Jesus, our wide receiver waiting in the end zone, and He will not drop the ball. He will not fumble on the goal line. He will not leave us punting from deep in our own territory.

But while we play, we’re gonna get creamed. We’re gonna take a lot of hits and sometimes we’re going to fall well behind the line of scrimmage. Some days will feel like we’re at 4th down with 100 yards to go. But we do not give up. We do not quit. We do not go quietly into that dark night. We reach down deep into that hope that does not disappoint, where God is faithful to all that we have entrusted to Him, and we press on. Because until the clock runs down and the last whistle blows, we’re still in this game, and our job is to defend our zone and take the enemy’s territory. One yard at a time.

(And there you have the only way to truly redeem football – make it all about the glory of God.)