Okay, before I get started, let me just say that I do realize my target audience is largely mothers. Who don't watch football. Or like it. I have to blame my father for my interest in the sport. When I was little, he coached our high school team, and I watched from the sidelines, rode the bus to away games and cheered as loudly as I could (in true tomboy fashion as my father would have died if I joined the cheerleaders). Now, I spend most of my Sunday afternoons curled up on the couch next to Adam watching the games. It's how I grew up and how I love to relax. But, still, you are wondering, what on earth does football have to do with anything spirtitual or anything related to parenting? Here's what Tony Dungy, former coach of the Super-Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, has to say about it:
"Football is just a game. It's not family. It's not a way of life. It doesn't provide any sort of intrinsic meaning. It's just football. It lasts for three hours and when the game is over, it's over. And, frankly,...the fact - that when it's over it's over- is part of football's biggest appeal to me. When a game ends, win or lose, it's time to prepare for the next one. The coaches and players really don't have time to celebrate or stay down, because Sunday's gone, and Monday's here. And no matter what happened yesterday, you have to be ready to play next Sunday. That's how it works - just like life. It's the journey that matters. Learning is more important than the test. Practice well, and the games will take care of themselves. Whether you've been kicked in the teeth or life couldn't get any sweeter, it keeps rolling on...and then there's another game."
Part of my goal for this journey is to be really honest and transparent with my struggles.
Yesterday, I was having a dialogue with God and I felt like the first thing I needed to address was "quiet time". One of the most important parts of our relationship with God is maintaining a connection with Him. I've heard many analogies in my life in regards to alone time with God - such as the comparison of spending time with God to eating. Of course we wouldn't go for days and days without eating, so why wouldn't we "fuel" our spiritual walk with the "bread" that is God's word? I've also heard it likened to a friendship. How great of a friendship would you have if you never called the other person to see how they were doing? In terms of analogies, last night I thought of the offensive lineman(insert -"huh?"). First of all, I would say if I was going to liken my relationship with God to football, I'd have to say I've been on the bench the last few years. Even though Adam and I committed to reading through the Bible this year, I've only done okay - sort of a mediocre effort. I'll read ahead, leave it on my nightstand for weeks at a time and then catch back up. But, back to the linemen...
An offensive lineman's job is pretty tough. They are the biggest, strongest guys on the field, but they get no glory. In fact, they don't even get a spot in fantasy football, because, unless they do something wrong, there aren't really any stats to speak of. The play starts, and that player's job is to use all his muscle to help someone else. They protect the quarterback. They block to let the running back through. If they don't, someone gets hit. Lots of behind-the-scenes work, and not much glory- kind of reminds me of being a parent. So what makes a good lineman, other than just being built like a house? Lots of hard work, and lots of training. Can you imagine what would happen if the lineman started to shirk his workouts during the week? It might not make too much of a difference at first, but after a while, after the ball was snapped, the enemy team would start to run all over that player! The quarterback would get sacked, the running back would never make it past the line of scrimmage - the lineman would be ineffective.
God gives us lots of "game-time" situations in life where we need to represent Him, fight off the enemy and do the right thing. When the situation is over, win or lose, it's over and all we can do is prepare for the next time. It's a tough thing to be a parent. There are so many things that we have to do that no one else sees. All the thanks we get is often an "I don't like you!" or "I want to go to Daddy's"! In light of those challenges, I can't imagine anything more important than going to the source of wisdom for help on a daily basis. So why is it that daily time in God's word is so easy to put off? I think it's just because the enemy wants us on the sidelines. I was challenged to think about it like this:
Every day when it seems like I just don't have enough time, or I just don't "feel like it", I'm going to picture the offensive lineman. I'm going to imagine that my children are in the backfield, and it is their salvation and well-being on the line. Because it is. Would you ever let a 6'8" 300 pound lineman have an easy shot at your children? I don't think so. "Hello!" you say, "How on earth are we supposed to fight off someone twice our weight? Your analogy is breaking down, Shannan." Wouldn't you know, this is what I read in my Bible, just this morning...
"I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:1-4
Will you commit with me to make time with God a daily habit? It's easier to workout when you have someone to do it with right? It's December, so that means football playoffs are coming soon. Football is going to be on a lot for the next two months. Everytime you see or hear someone talking about football, remind yourself with me that the enemy wants to defeat us, and there is a lot at stake.
"Lord please help me to see the game plan of the enemy that is to make us ineffective, and put us on the bench. Help me to see the weight of what is on the line, and give me the desire to further your kingdom - to not be content with just getting by. Thank you that I don't have to do it alone. Thank you for your promises. Thank you that you love my children more than I ever could. May my time in your word instill in me the heart for them that you have."
...and please help the Vikings win the superbowl! :-)