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Jesus and football

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"   John 14:6
I awoke this morning knowing it was Tuesday.  How could I tell?  My second or third thought was about football.  Begin pit in stomach feeling.  
Honestly, coaching football, even as an assistant, has been the toughest thing I have done. Ever.
The rules, the plays, the rules, the chaos, the rules, the distractions...have I mentioned the rules? 
Confusing at times.  Hard to get across to the boys.  Difficult to understand what you've done wrong and why it is wrong.  Just when you think everyone is on the same page...penalty!
So hard to see everything at one time.
So easy to get caught up in it all.
So tough to lose every single game you play.
Soccer was easy and fun:  See the ball.  Kick the ball.  Score.
Football...yeah, not so much.
I have been struggling for weeks, personally, trying to figure out what God was doing in asking me to volunteer.  I felt a failure for feeling so awful about this great outreach to the community.  This battle was personal.  I challenged myself to look only for the positive things the boys did the last two practices.  Some of them made that a real challenge.  I did it, though, and vocalized how proud I was of them.  I pointed out the positive things after the games, too.  
I always left the field, heart broken and stomach in knots. 
Last week Coach P told me he had to work and would miss the practice tonight.  Sunday, I learned that practice was now a game.  A game against the same team that practices/scrimmages with us every week.  
The team who has successfully and thoroughly beaten us two times previously and in every scrimmage.  
Oh, joy.
I could not shake the I-feel-like-tossing-my-cookies feeling this morning, so I went to the Y to get my mind off of football.  It worked until I arrived back home.
I busied myself with work around the house, turned up the Christian music station on the tv, and prepared in my head what to share during team huddle tonight.
It has never been about football.
It has always been about tonight's huddle.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  Ephesians 6:12
The huddle in which the Gospel is shared.  God's truth is revealed.  Jesus' victory over death is proclaimed.  Pit in stomach gone.  I had been searching for answers to the wrong problem.  Satan wanted me to struggle. He wanted me to give up.  He wanted me to feel a failure.  If I stayed focused on those things, I would overlook the important thing.
God knew I was going to be the one who shared the Gospel message with the boys tonight.  Somehow I imagine a dialogue as in the beginning of Job took place a few months ago...(not the blameless/perfect integrity part...I'm a sinner saved by grace, afterall, but I do fear God and try to shun evil)...and, so, began this struggle during football season.
I do not know why He chose me for tonight, but He did.  I prayed my way through the afternoon asking for Him to speak through me, give me the words, and somehow block the distractions that would take away from His truth.
I laughed to myself when an analogy popped into my head during huddle.
"What does it take to make a touchdown?" I asked.
Several answered right away, "Running into the end zone!"  Others gave more detailed answers.  However, they all forgot to mention the ball.  No matter what a person does or how many times one runs into the end zone, if he doesn't have the ball he doesn't get a touchdown.  A person with the football in the end zone gets a touchdown.
Similarly, eternity with God requires you to believe Jesus is His Son who came to Earth, died for our sins, and rose again.  Any other way is like expecting a touchdown without the football.
However awkward it may sound here, it resonated with the boys.  You could see their minds processing what was being said.  Some seeds planted.  Others watered.
God humbled me along this journey.  He brought me to my knees more often over football than I ever thought possible.  I am grateful for the opportunity to speak Truth into young hearts even when the struggles abound.
This ends my football coaching days.  So glad to go out with a win...not on the field (we lost 8-16, but we held them to only 2 TD's with no extra points and they were scoreless in the first half!)...but in my heart.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.   Hebrews 12:1-3


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