There are few times when I will happily sit down and enthusiastically watch a football match on TV. Yesterday I watched the last ten minutes as Cardiff City took the lead against Leeds in an FA Cup-tie and held out for victory.
Cardiff City Football Club has a special place in my heart because for three seasons I was their manager. Now we are not talking about real life here. We are talking about the computer game “Championship Manager 2”. I bought it one Christmas for my husband. While he successfully managed Leyton Orient to the top of the Third Division and into the play offs, I messed around at the bottom of the table just keeping my head above the relegation zone. While he accepted the grateful thanks of “The Board” and endless “Manager of the Month” awards, I was constantly being reminded of how disappointed “The Board” was with my current performance, and I was riddled with guilt at the loss of revenues as attendances at games dwindled!
I can distinctly remember a run of five matches where, according to the text flashing on the screen, we never came close to scoring, and my players were resorting to dirty tackles and getting sent off or injured. I was so disgusted that I switched the computer off at the socket. A week or so later, I returned to the game to discover that it was as if the five matches never happened. I had switched off the computer without going through the usual channels. The game had not saved the information. There were no injured players, no sendings off and no lost matches.
This switching off got to be a bit of a habit and the next two seasons improved dramatically. The matches where we were massacred, or practice sessions where a key player injured his ankle and would be out for the next three weeks were simply never saved. One touch of the off switch on the computer and they were wiped out.
I don’t know about you but life would be a lot easier if we could just hit the off switch once in a while and wipe out a week, or a day, or even just an hour. Perhaps it’s a conversation we had when we said something we regretted and hurt someone. Or a day when nothing went right from the moment we got out of bed. Perhaps it’s an illness that seems to sap all of our strength leaving us washed out, colourless and stretched out of shape. One touch of the right button and it is all wiped away like it never happened.
Life isn’t like that. There is no button that wipes it all away. What we are now is an accumulation of all that has been added on or subtracted from our lives from the start. Actually it is all that stuff that makes us unique. It has made us who we are.
Maybe if you are Tom Cruise – who you are, the unique you, is not so bad. You can live with it! For many of us, who we have become is not so good. There has been too much added on - worries about our children, pressures with our jobs, concerns about money. We carry the world on our shoulders. There has been too much taken away – people we cared about, trust in the community we live in, confidence in our abilities. We are dried up and shrivelled by life.
We cannot press the off switch but perhaps we don’t need to. If I had talked to someone who was successfully managing a football team (like Leyton Orient), I would not have needed to push an off button. I could have learned from the mistakes I was making and not just pretend they never happened.
Maybe what we need to do in real life is talk to someone who knows how to successfully manage “life”. Jesus holds out an invitation in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”