Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

No, I'm not talking about Christmas, even though Christmas decorations are up in most every store already. I'm talking about the most exciting time for a sports fan: the World Series for baseball, mid-season for the NFL and college football, early season for the NHL, and just another week before the NBA kicks off. It's a wonderful time to be a sports fan.

My favorite things about spectator sports are the distractions they provide, the lessons they teach, and the ways they pull us together.

Sometimes we all need a good distraction. Life in this world gets really heavy at times. When the daily news, along with our own personal and professional struggles weigh us down, sports gives us that moment to rest our minds, drink a brew or two, recharge and laugh with friends.

Sports also teach great life lessons like when I'm tempted to give up because times are hard. That's when I see an offensive or defensive line getting mauled, a baseball team getting shut out at the plate, a hockey team's fourth line getting trapped on the ice with the other team's first line, or an NBA team trying to beat a suffocating defense. These situations remind me to simplify things, keep chugging away, and don't stop believing.

But the thing I love most about sports is how they tie boyhood and manhood together. When you boil down each of these sports, they're all about hitting a ball or a puck, or carrying a ball, while others try to get it from you or knock you down. How great is that? Think about it. A football play isn't over until the guy carrying the ball gets knocked down to the ground, steps out of bounds, or crosses the goal line. That is so cool, especially in the mud and snow! That's what takes me back to my boyhood. I can still remember the "Ice Bowl" between the Packers and the Cowboys on a frigid Lambeau Field on New Year's Eve 1967. Talk about a test of grit and mettle!

At the same time, they are grown-up sports because of all the strategy, cunning and, when necessary, deceit. Brilliant coaches come up with disguised blitz packages; pulling guards and punt return misdirections; bunts and pick-off throws; breakaways and one-timers; picks and block outs.

Does that make sports the most important part of life? Of course not. In the big scheme of things it doesn't matter if my team wins the World Series, the NFL championship, the NBA title, or the Stanley Cup this season, because next year we'll start 0-0 and have to do it all over again. Meanwhile, there will still be problems and struggles in my family, community, and at work. But that brief hour or three helps me regain my focus, getting rejuvenated to put my shoulder to the load and press on.

Actually, everything I've written about sports above applies to my time with God too, everything that is, except the part about God not being the most important part of life. Every encounter I have with God -- whether at worship, Bible class, devotions, personal Bible reading, or prayer time -- is God pulling me out of the daily grind and reminding me of greater things that await at the end of the road. He reminds me that this life and all its accompanying problems won't last forever. A day will come when Jesus Christ will call us to a new, different and better life. When that happens all those problems dragging us down today will be gone forever.

Now that's something to cheer about!

I'll always love this time of year in sports, but I love my time with God even more.

What's your favorite time of the year? Go here to tell us what you think: click here!

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