Do you know what is more disheartening than having an opposing team’s fans come to your side of the field and run their mouths in the stands behind you? It is when your own team’s supposed fans openly badmouth your team. It’s not just disheartening, it’s flat out sad!
But here is a lesson about living victoriously and content in a world full of defeat and discontent. It’s not hard to find defeat and discontent in the world. Just look around. But our attitudes and outlooks have much more of an effect on our surroundings and our ability to live victoriously than we might believe.
Every weekend since the beginning of football season, I have been sending a special e-mail out to friends and family. They’ve been as short as two lines -- a victory shout for our varsity boys, and as long as a few pages -- a hard lesson in humility. This week, they will all be getting a copy of this article instead.
Last year, our varsity team did not win a single game. This year, they spent their entire summer in strength and agility training camp. My poor, scrawny son, Daniel -- Coach wanted him to gain some weight. He did. He gained a whole pound over the summer. He also grew an inch taller, meaning that he actually lost weight. It’s not because “Hollow Legs” doesn’t put away plenty of food! Nevertheless, those boys sacrificed their entire summer! But it paid off for them and they began the season with a couple of victories.
However, I sat in the stands this Friday night and watched our boys put forth their best effort only to be defeated. All the while, the people behind me were putting them down. “They get worse every week.” There was lot more said, but that particular phrase was repeated often. Okay, so we don’t have the greatest team of all time. But our boys love the game. And they’re doing exceptional, certainly better than last year. They’re doing the best they can.
No, I didn’t say anything. But I must admit that it was difficult. Indignation reared its ugly head for a minute and I wanted to scream at them, “Just whose team are you rooting for anyway?” I am a mother. My son plays football. I’m so very proud of my son. I am, in fact, his greatest fan. But, regardless of his own abilities or lack thereof, my son loses when his team loses. And he wins when his team wins.
There was one notable play made by our boys throughout that entire game -- an interception in the fourth quarter, a chance to score at least once. But the victory was small and very short-lived. The opposing team also made an interception on the following play! Our small victory was soon forgotten by fans as the opposing offensive line kneeled on each play to let the last few seconds on the clock run out and leave our boys with a 33 - 0 loss.
I made my way down to the gate between the field and locker rooms to support our boys. It was horrible to see them walking off the field with their heads so low. I thought that our quarterback was going to cry, apologizing to everyone in the crowd that had, by then, gathered around the gate, as though the whole loss was his alone. I suppose, being quarterback, that he probably feels like an island unto himself at times and while he apologized to us, I was sorry for him.
I’ve heard the B. I. B. L. E. called “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” That’s a good definition. But I have personally found it to be basic instructions for dealing with day-to-day life in the right here and right now. If you indulge yourself enough, you are, as they say, what you eat. Read and/or heard enough, the Word becomes so familiar that you begin to live it. In fact, Hebrews 10:16 says, “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then, when the situation calls for it, a Word is brought to our remembrance to assist us in our day-to-day living, in the present. Right there at that gate, a Word came to my remembrance.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Our boys, whether they were aware of what they were doing or not, were all ministers, if you will, ministering humility and unity by their apparent feelings toward each other. They blamed no one person for their loss. They suffered their loss together.
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? It would have been so easy for me to retaliate in those stands, to tell those “fans” how horrible they were for putting our boys down like they did. But to what end? They, I’m sure, were not even aware of the effect their words were having on me. Rather than retaliate, I found myself praying for them. And then, just as loud as I could shout, I shouted for our team! Maybe they could hear my encouragement on the field and maybe they couldn’t. But the people behind me, I’m sure, had no trouble hearing it.
We all have our good days and our bad days. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 discusses the many seasons of life. You can be sure that, if you haven’t already experienced a particular type of season, be it wonderful or horrid, you will eventually experience it. But whatever season we happen to be having, we’re either for each other or against each other. Period.
How we choose to treat others will make a world of difference and a difference in our world ... or at least our own personal worlds. God created the heavens and the earth, but each of us, as individuals, created in God’s image, have the ability to create our own personal worlds that others can be comfortable being a part of. We each have the ability to live victorious, content lives. And, for the most part, it’s a matter of how we choose to treat others and how we choose to react to the way we are treated.
The air was so thick on the long, quiet drive home. About halfway home, I finally said, “I’m sorry for you and your team’s loss, Son. Ya’ll played hard.” He responded by turning up the radio, so I respected his need for space and reflection. My heart broke for him as his own heart broke for his team.
When we finally made it home and Daniel got well settled into a game of Mario Brothers ®, I ventured carefully: “Son, that was an awesome interception you made.” I wasn’t itching for a response. I just wanted him to know that I’m proud of him, even though his heart remained with his team. If he hadn’t made that interception, I would still be proud of him. I’m proud of all those boys. They are all winners.
Can we rejoice for the good things that happen in our lives while, at the same time, being compassionate enough to weep with those who weep? Can we smile through our tears when life has been very difficult for us long enough to tell others that we are sincerely happy for the great things that are happening for them? Can we set aside our own aspirations for personal victory long enough to work together for the good of EVERYONE? Sounds like a Christ-like attitude, doesn’t it?
Whose team are you on? While you contemplate that answer, I will tell you what scripture is brought to my remembrance, just in case it hasn’t already been brought to yours: Mark 9:40 for whoever is not against us is for us.
I hear a cry beyond the noise of the crowds. It sounds a lot like Love shouting out “Victory!”
Football is a game. And next week, they’ll get to try again. But life ... life on this earth is a one time deal. I choose to live it contributing all that I can to my team, those with whom I share my personal world. I may not intercept much or be able to throw well. I may not be the biggest lineman on our team. I may fumble more than many. I may often feel too small and insignificant to tackle the big things, though I know in my heart that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I may not make anyone really proud to have me on their team. And I may make a lot of errors and even lose a few yards here and there.
But I vow to do my best. I vow to jump up and down and bump helmets with you when things work in your favor, even if my own stats aren’t looking too good. And I will most likely hang my head in prayer and compassion for you when you’re disappointed, despite how well I might personally be doing at the time.
Romans 12:14-21 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
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At any given moment, we can experience victory or loss. Let us remain faithful teammates then, regardless of our seasons....Amen!!! Gal 6:9 tell us not be weary in well doing. Even when we lose God wants us to keep doing well. For in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Enjoyed this word:) Thanks for your commments. God bless you...Hugs
hey, scott paschal here, former high school football player... and current ministry director of the international christian tennis association, www.christiantennis.net. i loved your well written and thought out article. i am from a small town in west texas, near abilene. my junior year our football team was terrible, we went 2-8. yuk. the next year we made the 3 round of the state playoffs. in west texas football is big. really big. and as kids we took losses pretty hard. but, mainly we took them hard because we were supposed to... you know everyone taught us football was everything so losing is a really bad thing. if someone like you had stood up and helped us stay focused on Jesus, wow... how awesome that would have been. i hope your son can in some ways appreciate a mom like you. two of my staff members, rachel and melody snelen, have a great supportive mom as well. both girls are wta ranked pro tennis players and fulltime christian tennis missionaries.never underestimate the influence of a positive christian mom in the life of a teen. thanks for what you do and God bless!
Treava, I have been there with your son…head hung down…head up high…bruised and broken…lifted on high. Always, my teammates and I, one in spirit. Competitive sports act as a vital part of ones ability to learn and grow into adulthood and understanding of what it takes to get through life. HI FIVE…………….
Treava...This was an excellent article, full of God's wisdom! You are a wonderful 'tool' for Him because you allow Him to use you to send forth His 'life-saving' messages! You wrote, "Can we set aside our own aspirations for personal victory long enough to work together for the good of EVERYONE?" That says it all! It is surely the theme God wants us to carry through our lives! Love you! Peggy