I like football. Heck, I love football. Some of my favorite memories revolve around the game.
When I was little, my dad and I would run home from church to watch Warren Moon lead the Houston Oilers on Sunday afternoons.
When I made it to junior high, I would spend friday nights at the football stadium with my older brother and sister cheering on our high school team.
In high school I played in the marching band and never missed a football game. I screamed until I was hoarse as my school's team beat Ben Roethlisberger's team for the league championship (also the last game of his Senior year). Legen. dary.
I remember watching the Ohio State Buckeyes beat Miami in triple overtime (and McGahee's awful injury) to win the BCS championship in 2002. We lived in Ohio at the time, and as soon as they won you could hear people yelling outside and car horns honking everywhere. It was pretty cool.
Go Buckeyes! (except you, Maurice Clarett. You're a jerk.)
When I was first married I would watch college football on Saturday mornings while Trevor was at work. I remember when I witnessed Tyrone Prothro make this crazy catch:
I called Trevor at work to tell him about it because I was so in awe and had no one to share my joy with.
I wept tears of joy as Vince Young casually ran in the winning touchdown of the 2006 Rose Bowl. Where you at, Reggie Bush? One of the best football games of all time. Hook 'em horns.
I called my dad constantly for updates during the Boise State/Oklahoma game from my hospital room a day after giving birth to Aidan. I knew that game would be the stuff legends were made of. The one game I will regret missing the most.
I sat eating a Dunn's hamburger in my Quality Inn motel room in Montreal, Quebec the day Texas lost to Texas Tech (2008). Screaming at the TV didn't seem to help Colt McCoy improve at all. It broke my heart. President Obama was also elected while we were in Montreal, but I was much more concerned about the Longhorns' loss.
A piece of me died when Troy Smith, Tedd Ginn Jr, and Co. got wiped out by Chris Leak for the 2007 championship. And again in 2008 when they lost to LSU.
I still cry whenever I watch the marching band do script Ohio. Beautiful.
Because of Jim Tressel, sweater vests now make sense.
Because of Larry Fitzgerald, I once again believe that wide receivers aren't required to be jerks (here's looking at you Randy Moss, Ochocinco, and Terrell Owens).
Because of Emmitt Smith I know some football players can dance.
Because of Kurt Warner, I know not all football players can dance.
I. love. football.
One thing I like more than football is talking about football (obviously). When I moved to Canada, I realized that very few up people up here share my interest. (And the CFL does not count.)When I find out that someone likes football, I cling onto them like white on rice. We will discuss football everytime I see them. Every time.
I'm proud to say that today I set a new record. I actually used football as a lengthy illustration during the sermon. Sure it probably would have gone over better in a church located in the SEC region, but I worked with what I had. It went something like this:
We were talking about how the health of a church depends on the spiritual health of its members. A personal relationship with Jesus outside of church is necessary to be spiritually healthy and mature. I sheepishly raised my hand and asked my husband if I could interject. If he knew what was coming, he probably would have said no.
"So, I kind of love football, and I thought of a good example that might explain what we're talking about a little better."
I saw the panic in his eyes and hurried on before he could stop me.
"I was just thinking of the athletes that play professional football. They have team practices they go to so they can learn the plays and work on playing together as a team. That's like going to church. We come together and learn how to be effective together as a team. It's the time that we gain the knowledge we need to complete our goals."
Trevor's not looking as panicked now. I'm not done yet.
"But the athletes also do a ton of training outside of their regular practices. They do drills, strength training, eat healthy, and other things to ensure their body is in peak condition. If they did nothing but the typical practice, they'd know the plays, but they wouldn't have the strength to complete them."
The angels rejoice. Heaven opened up and shone its light down on me (in my imagination, my angels always sing Vivaldi's Gloria). I've done it! I've come up with a way to talk about football and Jesus at the same time!
Trevor: "Thanks, Elizabeth..."
Me: "Um, I'm not done yet. I can do this all day. So the pastor is like the quarterback. Let's say Michael Vick. Just kidding. Aaron Rodgers. He's good looking and hasn't killed any dogs. And now he has a Super Bowl ring.
The quarterback is the most vulnerable player on the team (besides the kicker. But who cares, really?) He's busy scanning the field looking for an open man. He doesn't see that 300 pound linebacker barreling towards him on his blind side. He's got to have a strong offensive line to protect him. Otherwise he's going down. Loss of yards. One heck of a concussion.
That's not good for anybody. We've got to look out for each other. Depend on each other. Protect each other."
We've got to be bulked up, ready to play.
Now, this is coming from a Pastor's kid/wife/associate pastor/whatever you want to call me. I've seen people I love get worn down and beaten up from life in ministry. Heck. I feel that way myself sometimes.
Love your pastor. Support your pastor. Protect your pastor. They go through a lot. They have the weight of the world on their shoulders. You may not see it, but chances are they're pretty stressed. They've taken on a difficult job that makes them uber vulnerable. Cover their back. You'll never know how much it will mean to them.
It will be to your benefit, too. A pastor who feels the support of their church can lead them to great things in Christ.
So, evaluate your spiritual health. Where are you at? Are you one of the bulky offensive linemen ready to get at 'em, or are you out of shape, wheezing on the sidelines?
How do I bulk up?
Talk to God.
Read His word.
Listen to His voice.
Immerse yourself in Him.
It's game time.