Well, it’s been a couple days since our return from Phoenix. I thank God for His refreshment and goodness. God blessed in so many ways and it was truly a testimony of what life looks like when I choose to abide in Christ.
I find it funny that only now, I’m taking time to reflect upon the football game, which was the reason we went up in the first place. But again that is what abiding in Christ does. It puts everything in perspective. So what about the game? What was the blessings from being there? What did God teach me?
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Ps. 25:4-5
What comes to mind are a number of things. First, I thank God for the opportunity and the blessing of being there. It was only the second NFL game I attended in my life. For Jo, it was her first. Having someone you know personally on the field playing is almost surreal. No, not almost, it is really surreal. Early on it was unbelievable to me, watching the game and realizing that it was Kirk Cousins on the field! It was exciting. But that excitement was quickly overtaken by a real sense of nervousness. Why? For the same reason it was exciting. It was Kirk on the field! It was Kirk trying to lead his team down the field. It was Kirk surrounded by huge, muscle bound men, attempting to plant him into the ground. Yes, excitement turned into nervousness. And I’m only an “uncle” from Hawaii. I can only imagine what his parents, Don and MaryAnn must feel every single game.
As the game progressed and the Cardinals continued to lead, a gnawing feeling filled my heart. I began to pray and ask God to bless Kirk and help him lead his team to victory. Not necessarily a bad thing, right? But I realized that the motivation was, well, weird, for lack of a better word. It was weird because I began to feel that if the Redskins lost, I would have let Kirk down because my prayers were ineffectual. I felt that he would be disappointed that we came all that way to pray and support him and we came up short. I came up short. If only I prayed more. Or better. Or like Aunty Sally! Now, as I write down my honest feelings, I feel like an idiot. I mean, who do I think I am, really. Do I really think that I have the power to control a game with MY prayers? So, so silly! But in the spirit of full disclosure and being totally honest with myself, that is what I felt.
But isn’t it like God to use situations like that to teach us? When we choose to humble ourselves and be honest with ourselves, God can come in and teach us valuable lessons, in this case, another lesson in abiding in Christ. I realized that when I am truly abiding in Christ, He puts things into perspective. He’s in control and I can just rest in Him and enjoy, in this case, a football game with a friend of ours playing. Even if they lose, God is in control and has the bigger picture in mind. Following the game, we visited with Kirk and although he was disappointed, majorly disappointed, he had come out of a really physical game healthy. I could see an inner strength and peace from God, a humble yet strong heart, and growing conviction that he was walking in a manner worthy of his calling. And I felt that even in the aftermath of a tough loss, there was so much to be thankful for because it’s than just about football. It’s about life and the journey of following and learning from God. I’m learning that abiding in Christ puts life in perspective.
I also learned how I can better pray for Kirk. The pressure and stress I felt about letting him down was but a miniscule taste of what he goes through week in and week out. The stress he feels day in day out, as a leader of the team and not wanting to let his teammates, family, friends, fans, and whoever else down. That weight must be almost unbearable. Now I can pray with a better understanding and feel for what he goes through. I find myself praying more that he would experience the joy of the Lord throughout his day and week. That he would experience the joy of abiding in Christ in a deeper way.
Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Ps. 86:11
Looking back, I thank God so much for this now completed trip. In many ways, it has been life changing for me. Why? Not because of a football game. Not because of visiting a new place. Not because of a refreshing mini-vacation. It has been life changing because I experienced a taste of what it means to truly abide in Christ. A taste of the kind of life God wants me to live. I prayed that God would teach me and He did. I learned to rely on His faithfulness in greater ways. I pray that God would give me an undivided heart that I may fear and trust in Him and Him alone. I thank God for the taste of what it means to abide in Christ and to rely on His faithfulness.And having that taste, I want more. May I walk the rest of my life wanting more. More of a Savior who loves me with an amazing, unbelievable, and crazy love. Yup, it’s more than a football game.