Saturday, August 17, 2013

Am I In the Game?

Am I in the Game?
Peggy K. Mack
August 17, 2013

Sitting on the sideline or in the stands is not the same as being chosen to play on the team, to run the field, to reach the goal, to feel the victory.  These thoughts lead me to a favorite memory of my Dad's humor and his love for country story tellers like Andy Griffith.  I can vividly remember sitting in my living room listening to the LP on a record player as Andy shared his first experience as an old country, farm boy with attending a football game.  Listening to Andy's rendition had me falling off my chair in laughter and wondering what it was like to be part of "What it was, was Football."

Millions of Americans every year "get ready for the football season."  The fans will proudly place stickers on their car windows or fly pennants on their cars on the weekends and say " Go Steelers" or "Go Noles". In conversations with another fan they might say, "How about those "Cowboys" this year?  For men, it's an open invitation to share all you know and get into a serious discussion of what the team is doing this season and what their stats are and whose playing injured. For women, it's a real toss up as to whether you're talking about a real cowboy out in Oklahoma or you are one more male whose focus on life has turned to lines of white on a green field. All we women know is that if we holler with you, we are great women!  So, woo hoo!  Go Team!

 Oh my goodness, fall approaches and the enthusiasm of those faithful folks on the bench is on the rise once, again.  For the players, the pre-season involves a lot more than banners and conversation.  It is a dedication to sacrifice, sweating profusely in practice, getting injured and disheartened and being cut from the team.  Once the season begins, it is a combination of hard work, more injuries and big celebrations with each win and feeling deflated with losses.  In the end, those who make the team know they've experienced the glory of playing football.

Compare the life of a part time attending Christian and every Sunday attending Christian for 40 years to someone who quietly asks, "What do you need me to do to help our church? Where can I serve?"

Attending church on Sunday morning is not the same as being active in your faith, through daily devotions and prayer in private conversation with God, touching others with acts of kindness, expressing your love for God through the gifts you've been given and seeing the miracle of God working through lives you have touched.  Many like myself would readily defend ourselves and say out loud, "I am a Christian.  I was raised a Christian and have attended church for many years."  Sometimes proud folks like myself will ask another, "Do you believe in God?" or "Are you going to the Christmas Eve service this year, it's a family tradition for us!"  And their soft spoken reply might be, "Oh yes, I am a true believer.  I just don't make it to church often, maybe Christmas for sure.  It's organized religion I have a problem with and I feel like people who go to Church are hypocrites. But, oh yes, I am a Christian!" 

Life for the seasonal church goer is doable with five days in a work week and two days off on the weekend.  Ah, life is good!  For the Christian who worships, serves, works and dedicates their lives to Christ,  it is an active life of endless activities to be done with and for the church.  There are endless projects to choose from and an endless stream of people in the community who need help.  It is true there are wonderful celebrations that bring them all together, but there are times when exhaustion and frustration with others set in and one wonders if all this work even makes a difference.  What they experience are endless blessings that flow beyond what life gives them in their daily lives. When an active Christian looks back at their lives they see, life was lived in service to God, the blessings that flowed were endless and the Glory is everlasting.

The challenge in life is considering what kind of Christian you are.  For me, as my dad often described a person's enthusiasm, he would say my Christian life was "lukewarm to middlin'".  I am not certain what that reference was attached to but I know it meant I spent most of my life in the stands with a few efforts to truly serve.  There were years were I was there "everytime the door opened" but a few disappointing moments or disillusionment with the never ending need for me to do, to show up, to plan, to serve had me choosing to quit.  I became part of the Christians from afar.  The believers who called religion, "Man's idea". 
At this old age of 63, I am going to try out for the team, again.  God never closes the doors.  He never ceases to invite us to experience what those in service know.  The blessings flow in the life of one who worships and serves.  I want to know what they are experiencing.  I want to see how far I can push myself to get off the sidelines and get back into service. I want to stop cheering for those who play the game and get in there and get busy.  I want to experience the celebrations and learn from the losses and stay with it until I look back and sense the Glory.  I want to experience the endless flow of blessings.  Life can be so much better, but I have to choose to make the commitment with no excuses.

One of the ways we become better Christians is to evaluate where we are in "this game" and then, make a choice to be on the sidelines or to play on the field.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

For those of you who would like to laugh with Andy Griffith, here is: What it Was, Was Football

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