Indefinable – yet it explains everything.
Elusive – yet it holds everyone together.
Invisible of itself – yet it’s so obvious.
As the winning edge in team sports, it can tantalise even cynics with myths of invincibility. But what is it?
Through the course of a game, momentum protects teams from failure. Even mistakes are suddenly exploited by players who find themselves exactly where they need to be as everything keeps flowing. So smoothly that you could expect the winning players to change back into their regular clothes at half-time and sit with their adoring fans to give their opponents the rest of the game to catch up.
But then something happens to those who haven’t overworked the scoreboard.
Is it a spark of defiance or inspiration; a display of arrogance by their oppressors, who trip off into the fairyland of infallibility; an interruption by an underdog who has gotten sick of eating dirt? Whatever it is, momentum suddenly switches sides, and swaggers disappear along with the smirks...
The legends in their own lifetime begin looking like legends in their own lunchboxes.
Fans will debate just what the game-changer play was, but hindsight assures them that they all knew it was coming!
Professional sports teams exist to maintain their momentum, and any prospective player with game-changer skills will always be welcome. But because elite athletes have everything but privacy when they face personal challenges, chaplains are increasingly being invited to provide pastoral care in wider issues than their sports.
Sometimes the welcome is less whole-hearted...
Hearing that their team had appointed a chaplain, a few football players were disconsolately giving comfort to some jugs of beer. One of them encapsulated their fears: “I don’t want any goody-two shoes God-botherer around here, do any of you guys?”
“No way, but it looks like he’s coming. They’ve even got a welcome planned for him and other new staff at Saturday night’s formal dinner to launch the season. It’s all been decided,” another replied.
A malicious glimmer of anticipation sidled down the cheeks of the first, curling his lips into a smirk. “Formal dinner, hey; so everyone will be all dressed up? I can fix it so someone will wear less than that. And we can make life difficult for this chaplain character.” They were all ears, but he pulled them in close to share his inspired scheme.
So, without a word to anyone else but the dinner’s PA operator, they arranged for a stripper to come to the dinner, and to perform as close to the chaplain as she could.
The big night came, with anticipation of great success for the team. Inspiring singers and a class act stand-up comic kept positive vibes flowing through the proceedings. As the chaplain and other support staff were introduced and applauded, nobody noticed the conspirators vacate their table to head for the foyer, in answer to a text message.
They met her and escorted her to the doors, from where they pointed out the chaplain, before returning to their seats. Except for the ringleader, who detoured to the sound desk to cue her music.
Sultry saxophone tones swamped all conversation, as the room plunged into darkness. A spotlight followed in te silence, as a glamorous surprise guest sashayed across from the foyer towards a small space behind the chaplain. The saxophone resumed, inviting her to begin writhing with the rhythm, while her clothing began to accumulate at her feet.
Every eye was on her, and the momentum was totally with the conspiracy - until arrogance overstuffed its ringleader’s ego.
Unable to contain his triumph, he yelled out: “Are you having a good time Reverend?”
Without giving the poor chaplain a moment to sift through a very short list of possible “chapter and verse” replies, God stepped in with his own game-changer. Everyone heard the chaplain’s voice in reply: “I was, until your mother showed up!”
The act dissolved in laughter and dignity was restored. And everyone discovered that this guy was tapped into someone who could help them to change their game when they faced sudden, unexpected pressure, with a momentum that brings everything into balance.
On and off the field.
Author’s note. This is a true story which comes with an invitation to trust God when there is no time to do anything else. It also comes with a warning not to try to use this chaplain’s game-changer, like we sometimes use other speakers’ “zingers” when we present people with Jesus’ claims on their lives. Unless:
1. You have been appointed to a sports club as a chaplain
2. Some people would prefer you not to be there
3. They organise a stripper to come to a dinner to welcome you – and to start right where you are.
4. One of the conspirators asks you loudly: “Are you having a good time?”
If you can clear those four hurdles, then the line is legitimately yours to use. In the meantime, relax in God’s timing to bring fresh game-changers into your own interaction and witness.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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