Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Played Football...

Most of you have heard that I played football back in high school. This time of year, football is in the air. It literally smells like football. The dry grass, hot humidity. Because football is starting to creep its way into my brain again, I thought I'd share a quick reflection about my days on the field.

I attended Tiffin Calvert H.S. A small Catholic school of about 200 kids. We had a tremendous following for most of our sports teams (we were back-to-back state football champs back in the 80s), and incredibly high expectations. Failing to win the league and make the state playoffs meant your year could possibly go down in Calvert Seneca history as one of the worst ever.

Here's our first football team.

I'm fairly certain I was the smallest kid on the team, the only exception may be my senior year when my whopping 115 pound frame may have edged a few of the freshmen. Most people thought I was crazy to play football. I was crazy.

I was crazy about winning and about the tradition. I soaked them both up.

My desire to win propelled me to endure incredible trials, the same trials most all football players face:
  • Broken ribs.
  • Blindside hits on special teams.
  • Blood.
  • Broken fingers.
  • Concussion.
  • Bone bruises.
  • Sprained thumbs and ankles.
  • Someone's facemask hitting my elbow as they ran full speed into me - infinitely more pain than a normal bump of the funny bone.
  • Tackling drills against people twice my size.
  • Intense anxiety and nervousness before games.
You face it all. You endure it all to win. You endure it because it's part of the tradition. All of you teens, you endure similar things on the athletic fields, at work, at school or in band. You endure long early practices, but why?

You name the reason...I'm sure it's a fairly good one.

I was reflecting on all of this yesterday because I so often think that living the Christian life is too hard. It costs me too much.

Football was incredibly hard. It consumed my entire life for 4 months every year. It cost me a lot of pain...maybe even years of my life.

I was thinking about it because I sometimes think we're challenging teens too much. We need to lower the bar.

If my coach would've lowered the bar, he would've been fired. We would've lost all the time. I wouldn't have met my potential as a player.

The purpose of living out our conversion to Christ is to attain salvation...the ultimate victory. When it all boils down, this is what remains. It's hard. It's not going to be easy. It requires sacrifice and too often I forget that. I worry myself with so much other stuff. I wreck my body, leaving everything on the field.

But what do I give for Christ?

And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me for one hour?"

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