by Brock Benson
Depending on who you were rooting for yesterday in the AFC and NFC championship games probably effects how your morning and week is getting started. For those who are Rams and Patriots you are elated and joyous to see you teams go to the biggest game on the biggest stage in two weeks down in Atlanta. But for Who Dat Nation and Chief Nation you probably have a little bit of a bitter taste in your mouth. If you are a Saints Fan you are feeling like your season was blown by a bad call. And if you’re a Chiefs fan you’ve sworn Belichick figured out a way to hack into the replay camera system. Let the conspiracy theories begin as we replay in our minds what could have been as Saints and Chiefs fans.
The past two weeks at Revive Church we’ve started a study from the book of Ruth and some of what we have been talking about I believe sheds particular light on the current NFL conversations and I’m sure will be the topic of some Super Bowl parties. The book of Ruth starts out in an incredibly depressing fashion. There is famine, death, and depression all wrapped into one. Naomi, a Jewish woman who has fled to Moab with her husband during a time of famine returns to her homeland without her husband and two sons and feels God’s hand is against her. A sentiment I bet is shared by a lot of Saints and Chiefs fans today. This is not meant to make light of Naomi’s loss or down play the frustration of loyal fans who love their teams. It’s simply a reality I think that’s worth looking at. Because the narrative in our minds about whatever it is that happens whether it’s a bad call or severe loss in life shapes the way we think, decisions we make, and the attitude we share to the world around us. Personally I think the events that unfolded last night are an important example of a bigger truth we many times fail to yield to.
Let me bring us back to the events transpiring in Ruth and Naomi’s journey. The narrative inside Naomi’s head is that everything is bad and everyone is against her. But this isn’t exactly true because she wasn’t returning completely empty. Her daughter-in-law Ruth decided to dedicate herself in loyalty and return with her mother-in-law. Ruth leaves the comfort of home in Moab and goes back to a land she doesn’t know about with her mother-in-law of all people. And to top it off her mother-in-law is not the most gracious person at this point in her life either. Naomi was in a place we’ve probably all experienced before and felt like. As if nothing is going our way and we’ve just come up short on luck.
When the Saints and Chiefs lost their games last night social media immediately began the conversations and thoughts in a lot of peoples’ minds. Why do the NFL overtime rules stink? Why does one call have to end our season? Why can’t we ever win the big game? Are these legitimate questions? Sure they are. To not ask them and to not think about them is to have your head in the proverbial sand if you will. Sports teach so much about life and so much how we really deep down view God. And that’s why they are powerful metaphors.
Each of these questions isn’t so much just a question about the game of football. It’s really about the game of life if you will allow me to explain. If we are not careful to guard our hearts, we blame bad calls or bad things that happen to us as the reason for our misery just like Naomi. We question the rules God’s ordained for us to live by because we struggle to believe His way is best. We are a people constantly battling to surrender our will to His. If the games yesterday didn’t show you that, or the current government shutdown doesn’t point you to that, then you need to have your eyes checked.
My dad always told me the game is bigger than one call (or several calls for that matter). Do those calls effect your psyche? Sure! They can impact it a whole lot. Calls can discourage and impact you greatly. I won’t diminish that fact for one minute. But we have to remember God’s hand is over the game of life and each of circumstances too. Upon arriving in the foreign land of Israel Ruth is led into a barley field by the hand of God. It’s in that field we see God’s plan is good and he works us around what we might think are bad calls to ultimately help us see its always His call!
Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. If there was ever a contemporary example of someone who didn’t focus on bad calls but kept persevering it was him. Both Ruth and MLK should compel us as believers to not be shaped by a call or our own perceived rules system but to actively yield to God and his plan. This is not easy and it takes a lifetime to fully understand what yielding our spirit means.
But that’s the journey we are on!