Throwing FootballI can’t wait for football season to start.  Football has been in my blood ever since I watched Y.A. Tittle chuck a pass to his tight end Billy Wilson back in the early 1950’s.  The excitement, passion, hard work, and strategic planning associated with this great sport all seem to resonate with my character.

As a young person I would come home from Sunday church and immediately put on my red football helmet and prepare for the television game of the week. Because my father worked on Saturdays and got home late during the evenings, there really wasn’t much time for us to throw the ole pigskin around.  Sunday’s televised football game was about the only time we were able to bond around something we both enjoyed.

It was rare for me to sit through an entire game.  My excitement spilt over to our long front yard where I lived out all my fantasies about someday being an NFL player.  Our neighborhood was primarily made up of girls who were more interested in playing dolls than throwing a football.  I didn’t let the facts of the matter bother me: there wasn’t a bunch of guys to play a “pick-up” game or that my front yard had cement walkways scattered throughout the yard or the fact that I was not physically suited to play the game.

I would pretend to be an NFL quarterback, taking the ball from center then racing back to throw a pass as far and high as I could throw.  This would give me time to race down to the end of the lawn to make a diving catch on the ball – sometimes landing on the lawn and sometimes on the walkways.

It had to look very strange to anyone driving by the house and seeing this skinny young lad playing a one-man football game.  To play the quarterback and receiver was not enough.  Who better to do the “play by play announcing” than the same person involved in the game. This would be done with all the sounds and words one could muster at eleven years of age.  Then there was the imaginary tackles and kick returns and, of course, the victory celebration after a score.

Some days I would come in so exhausted from the one-man game that I would literally have to crawl into bed to recover.

What It Takes to Play on God’s Team

I may have missed the opportunity to become a professional football player, but I didn’t miss out on being drafted for the most important team – a team with a mission far greater than any NFL game or Super Bowl Championship.  It’s a team whose members are not always the most visible people on the field or who look the best.  They may even lack football talent or physical ability.

The unique thing about this team is that it doesn’t require a person to practice and it cost nothing to join.  The team is of divine inspiration and it’s called – God’s Squad.

Much in the same way a good football player is developed, a God’s Squad team member needs an opportunity to commit his allegiance to the team, he needs to be dedicated and passionate about his faith, and he needs to be encouraged and be of encouragement to others.  Believe it or not, all these things are scriptural and will help develop a close personal relationship with God.

One thing lacking from God’s football field: there are no benches.  Benches are for folks not playing the game.  If you are sincere in your beliefs and dedicated to your faith you will want to get into the game.  When Jesus gave out the Great Commission just before He left His disciples, He challenged all of us to join in on the battle for souls.  It was a call made to all folks who call themselves Christians.

When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20.

Jesus tells us to pick up our cross (dedication, faith, commitment, skills, abilities, experience, passion, compassion and obedience) and follow Him. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:23-24

You say, “I can’t make His team. I’m not good enough, or successful enough, or have completed enough good works”.  My friend, you don’t have to worry.  Jesus has enough room on his team for the outcast, the rejected and the forsaken.  In Luke 4 He reminded the religious leaders of that day and all of us today, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4:18-19

If you’re not on His team – You need to be!    The good news for all of us “arm chair quarterbacks” is that the same God that guides the great ones– like Y. A. Tittle and Kurt Warner– will guide us.

Personal Application:

Are you a spectator or participant?  God calls us to get into the game (seeking the lost) and putting ourselves on the line.  Read Matt. 28:18-20

Remember, discipleship is the process God uses to conform us into the likeness of His Son.  Our response to the Holy Spirit’s convicting and convincing voice is our gift back to a loving Father.  Whom are you impacting?

Jim Grassi, D. Min.