Years ago I was sitting in a church in central Indiana. My roles in the church was many. I was part of the men’s fellowship, young adult choir, nursery ministry, and more. Being a member of a church who’s pastor was a former boxer it is easy to see how his vision of the world would always be colored ever so slightly by that world. It’s not unusual to hear a man who is a former athlete allow certain things to slip into his speech pattern. Saying things like, “be a team player” “hit a home run with that speech” “get up and dust yourself off”. “Keep swinging” and on and on.
So it was so unexpected what he said on one particular Sunday so many years ago.
It was deep in the midst of football season and the early part of the basketball season. My Indianapolis Colts were playing. I believe that they were playing badly because it was pre-Payton Manning. So they were still in the AFC East. These were the days that my Pacers still had Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, the Davis’s, and so on. The greatest enemy of every Indiana sports team was the Knicks, Bulls, Dolphins, and really any team that would dare draw breath in our new RCA “Hoosier” Dome or Market Square Arena.
I honestly do not recall the message. I couldn’t even guess what line of scripture he lifted up that day. I’m not even sure what color suit or robe he had on that day. But I do remember him saying this:
It’s a shame that we can shout and scream and foam at the mouth at a Reggie three [point shot]. But we can’t open our mouth and make any noise at all for the word of God.
He really put things into perspective for me on that Sunday.
No, I didn’t stop being very depressed when my team was once again sent to its bench with too few points to win. No, I didn’t stop wearing with great pride the gold and blue of my Pacers or the white and blue of my Colts. Not even the vibrant reds of my beloved Indianapolis Indians. But I DID take due notice of how I responded to the word of God in worship service.
Today, we heard the Word from Isaiah 3:1-10. In this passage we were reminded that Isaiah was a young child who, though he was a servant of God, he knew almost nothing of God. So when he heard Gods voice, he confused it with his own earthly fathers voice. So mistaking it, he disturbed his fathers slumber three times. Only on the last hearing of his name being called out did his fathers words to respond to the voice of God occur. He said “here am I.”
My point is that I could be walking down Meridian Street or down the hallways of Victory Field. And if I should chance upon one of those teams ball players and they literally tripped over me, they wouldn’t know me. Probably wouldn’t even try and get to know me. Though I’d’ve been a full fare, ticket paying fan, I’m not going to be his priority beyond the brief moment of his footing being lost on account of us having crossed paths just a bit too closely. My mama used to say, “… Could trip over you, and wouldn’t know you.”
So why in the world would I shout so hard for him, a person who really wont do anything specifically for me? Why would I scream until I’m horse for him? Clap my hands until they hurt? Stomp my feet until my bones shake? Spend money like a drunken sailor on team gear to PROVE I’m the best sixth man or twelfth man or whatever man? Why would I do all these things that cry vainglorious fandom…. But I cannot be bothered to even so much as crack a smile when the word of God is delivered and He loves me in all I do? Will be my father no matter what? Has my back like no one else? Literally sacrificed his only son for me before I even knew who He is?
It was then that I made sure I re-prioritized my praise. Re-assessed where my faith was placed. In whom I placed my trust. I learned that day that man will at some point always let you down. Man is at some point going to give you reason to question why you trusted him at all. Analyze your very rubric for judging another’s character. But in God the trust and love will never EVER fail. It’s why when someone at work recently asked me why I’m always so upbeat and happy, I responded that I have a close relationship with God. She was stunned by my answer…. And frankly so was I. I too was surprised I said that so readily. It wasn’t an answer I’d planned on. But it was the answer I had on the tip of my tongue. And it was the truth.
So yes, I’m very hurt my favorite football team lost. I’m very upset that I live in a state where their team was the instrument by which my team was embarrassed to have even dressed to play. I’m hurt inside because I know the fans of that team here are rude, often crude, and love to brag and be crass in their wins and fein concern for my feelings when they ask dumb questions like, “So…. What happened to your team?” In other words, in the fellow men and women of my current community, I will find no comfort. I will find no peace or honest sympathy. They are men, after all.
But with God I can be sure that when I go to him, I don’t need to wear a particular teams colors or shout a particular chant to get comfort, peace, love, guidance and joy.
So yes, I’ll still be a bit touchy over this latest loss. And yes, I’ll one day soon again, be a super fan again. But as for now, I can still be myself and happy because I don’t put my faith in men. Because men let me down. I put my faith in something much more permanent. Someone more in tune with my spirit and my heart. Someone who does know me, even if I trip over Him.