It was my first time cheerleading at our high school Friday night football game and I loved yelling at the top of my lungs, “First and ten; do it again! First and ten; do it again!” That same short cheer was repeated throughout the game, and later when I arrived home, happy about our team’s victory, I said to my dad, who attended every game, “What’s a first and ten?”
That conversation began my father-daughter football training. To this day, I love watching football, especially college football. Is there anything that matches the enthusiasm, spirit, tradition and atmosphere of a Saturday afternoon, collegiate football game?
At times, life itself seems like a “first and ten,” just trying to run down the field and gain ground even with the interceptions, penalties and injuries that happen on the field. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:26 not to run aimlessly, or compete uncertainly or with indistinct actions. If we are to gain ground against the enemy of our soul, we must do so with conviction, intentionality and certainty, trusting the Lord to give us the coaching strategies so that we prevail in the end.
Of course, don’t we love to watch the “Hail Mary” pass that connects and scores? But the every day part of life has more “ground game” than the long connecting runs or the 80-yard punt returns.
Hebrews tells us to “run with patience the game that is set before us.” And Paul exhorts us, “Run, that we may obtain the prize.” I heard Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, speak about what he thought was vital for the unity of his college team. He said every Monday before they review film of the previous week’s game he has every team member write down 10 things they are grateful for. He asks them not to repeat what they wrote the week before.
Coach Tressel has discovered that an attitude of gratitude bears much strength to the overall teamwork. Following each OSU game, the team gathers at the goal post for prayer and the singing of the Alma Mater. Giving thanks, praying, singing... hmmm, sounds like church to me!
So, Foursquare team, pastors and leaders: Let’s stay on the field and, in the midst of temporary interceptions, etc., keep running the game plan. May we hear the voice of our teammates, as well as the great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on with, “First and ten, do it again!”
By: Harriet Mouer, supervisor of the Mid-Atlantic district