I’ve shared before in earlier posts that I have always had a great love for sports, especially in my younger years. I still enjoy sports very much, but I am no longer a rabid and crazy sports maniac. I keep up with what’s going on, but I “try” not to take it too seriously. Try as I may, it does not mean that I am immune to disappointment when my teams lose or are not playing well. But instead of getting too excited and talking to the TV, I have become a little more cautious and superstitious about how much I watch games that my teams are playing in. Actually I enjoy games a lot more if my teams aren’t playing in them. I’m actually thankful when my teams have a “bye week”. For all those who don’t speak sports a “bye week” means your team has the week off.
Sometimes, watching my teams play is like watching a horror movie with your hand over your face. You might peak through our fingers to see what’s going on, but are always ready to close them back up again when the horror is too horrible. So, in order to keep calm when my team is not playing well or losing, I have to change the channel or do something else. Sometimes, it’s better to just not watch. Some may say that I’m not a “true” fan, and that might be true. But for me it’s better to change the channel or not to watch than to curse at the TV and throw the remote across the room.
For example: In 1981, the Atlanta Falcons were playing the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. Not only were they favored to win, but they were also leading by 10 points with 6 minutes and 37 seconds left in the game. This is significant because this is only the second time in their 15-year history that they had been in the playoffs. They were perennial losers. This was really the first time that “my team” had a shot at the title.
I was born in Atlanta. My dad and I supported our hometown teams: Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Flames, and Yellow Jackets. We went to several games a year. In the 1970’s being an Atlanta sports fan wasn’t easy. (It really hasn’t changed much) The Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Flames and Yellow Jackets always found a way to lose. So, the game in 1981 was a big deal.
My dad and I watched the game in our living room at our log cabin in Blairsville. The reception wasn’t great, but we could watch the game. I probably had to run outside and move the antenna a few times during the game. As I said, there were 6 minutes and 37 seconds left in the game. We were up by 10, and had the ball. I was convinced it was going to happen!!! Finally, we are going to beat the Cowboys, move on to the next round, and probably win the Super bowl. THIS IS IT! VICTORY AT LAST! WRONG!
The Falcons found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Wait, isn’t that supposed to be the other way around? NO! Not when you’re a Falcon fan. They always find a way to blow it, and they did. The Cowboys came back and scored two touchdowns in just a few minutes to win the game.
Disappointment is not a word I would use to describe how I felt. Basically, I flipped out and had a sho nuff temper tantrum. I was crying, yelling, and throwing things around the living room. My parents probably thought I was possessed. I think I had turned green, my head was spinning around, and I may have been vomiting pea soup. So my dad performed an exorcism right there in the living room. I don’t think a crucifix or holy water was necessary, but my dad had the cure for my conniption. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but my dad brought my fit to screeching halt. There was probably yelling and threats of manual hard labor. At 16, I would much rather get whipped than have to do hard labor: split wood, clear brush, or dig holes for 8-10 hours.
My dad was disappointed about the outcome of the game, but He reminded me that it was just a game, and that LIFE WOULD GO ON. Life did go on and the Falcons-Cowboys game of 1981 was the beginning of the end for my extreme sports fanaticism. It took a few more defeats to get it under control, but I finally have for the most part.
I have never had much luck with picking winners in sports. There are times that I say to myself, “boy you sure know how to pick em.” One of my problems is that I like underdogs and Cinderella’s, and they don’t usually have great odds of winning.
However, I do have a winning record picking presidents, barely. I am 5-4 (5 wins and 4 loses) when voting for commander and chiefs since my 18th birthday. You may be calculating right now whom I may have voted for. I may give it away when I say that my record is probably going to slip to 5-5 this time.
In the upcoming election, I don’t think there will be a win-win for anyone regardless of how it turns out. I think this country is lost in a sea of division, extremism, and polarization both politically and spiritually. We are experiencing a perfect storm of hostility and antagonism. Throw in a worldwide pandemic and it’s very easy to get discouraged. I will admit that it is a struggle for me to stay positive and to be hopeful all the time. I find myself praying with the Psalmist “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 NIV). I know I’m not alone.
I’m sure Daniel, in the Old Testament, wondered the same thing while in captivity in Babylon. The Israelites were conquered by the Babylonians in around 597 BC and then deported back to Babylon. I’m sure they felt abandon and forgotten. However, Daniel and others determined to persevere.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” Daniel 2:20-23 (NIV)
In spite of his circumstances, Daniel trusts the Lord and recognizes that God is control because of His ultimate wisdom and power. God knows what He’s doing. Times and seasons change. Leaders come and go. God is in control of who is in power. He hasn’t given up or thrown in the towel. He is still dispensing wisdom and knowledge, revealing mysteries to the wise and discerning. His work is active and ongoing. He knows what is in the darkness. There is nothing hidden from His sight. He is never surprised or caught off guard.
Just like Daniel, we may feel like our world and everything we know is falling apart or coming unglued. The future may be dark and uncertain, but I hope that this devotional will be a reminder that no matter what happens, win or lose, God is still there and in control. Life will go on, whether we like the outcome or not.
P.S. If I have a fit, turn green, and my head starts spinning around, just make me split wood, clear brush, or dig some holes for a day or two.
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Management