While leading a biblical study tour of Israel, we arose at 3 a.m. to join the rest of the Bulldog Nation back in the States in rooting Georgia to their first National Championship since 1980, my freshman year in college. For the second week in a row, we endured the stress of a nerve-wracking overtime outcome. If you are a football fan you can appreciate the drama involved in “enjoying” a game. I ask myself a question from time to time: “Why do I invest so much emotionally into a silly football season?” Why do I allow 19-year-olds that I have never met to get me so worked up?
Immediately after the game was over and the sting of defeat was looming, we hurried to make our way to breakfast in our hotel before boarding a boat on the Sea of Galilee with our group. In a span of less than an hour, we had moved from the frustrating disappointment of losing a National Championship to the incredibly inexplicable experience of worshipping Christ on the very water He walked on. By the end of our day of touring, I realized that I hadn’t given much thought to the game, its outcome or my disappointment. I was afforded the luxury of an acutely accurate and proper perspective on life, on love and on college football.
As you know, there are far more important things in life than football. In a span of time it took to watch the National Championship game, I subsequently shared a devotion where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. I shared some thoughts concerning the miracles in Capernaum, just steps away from where an anemic woman touched the hem of His garment. I listened to my wife teach on the inclusivity of Christ on the sea shore where Peter was brought back into fellowship with the very Lord he betrayed three times. I had the privilege of baptizing devoted children of God in the waters of the Jordan river. I taught and encouraged pastors from Ethiopia, Kenya, India and Mexico all over the Galilee. These ministers may never have seen a Bulldog or a Crimson Tide and they seemed to be just fine.
Of course, football is a non-consequential, temporary and superfluous distraction but the principle remains. Many people rise at 3 a.m. for many other reasons like radiation sickness, anxiety over a marriage or the loneliness of losing a loved one. Perhaps people in such pain cannot stand where Jesus stood or walk where Jesus walked, on water or otherwise. People in pain can stand on His promises. People in loss can appreciate His fellowship on a sea shore or in the middle of the night. People can still bank on His miraculous restoration.
Our plans for that week in Israel included many special visits to many special places that will remind me of a very special love found only in Christ. I don’t know what you have planned or where you will be today, but I know He is very interested in being with you. We will likely be tempted by many things that aren’t all that important. Perhaps we should be reminded through a silly football game that there are far more important things that mustn’t go neglected. Let’s not forget to love Him and love our neighbor on our way to walking out our calling. The simple things of faith mustn’t ever be Greek or for that matter Hebrew to us, should they?
Enjoy exciting diversions in life today. We need breaks for sure, but be very careful. Be careful that over time, your diversions and entertainment do not slowly creep into your life to the extent that you miss others, you miss opportunities and perhaps even miss the point. I will continue to enjoy rooting for my football team next season, but I will serve, love, proclaim and devote myself to Him with far more excitement, far more clapping, far more singing and far more earnestness than any stadium full of fans can muster. Will you join me this year in not only being a fan but more so a follower of Christ?
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, NC.