It certainly was a lot of fun watching our boys play football. It all started with our oldest son in 1992, and concluded with our youngest in 2012.
From the pee wee level to middle school to high school to college, I always gave each boy a pre-game speech. It was a Dad-thing, as far as I was concerned. Part of the speech had to do with my expectation and encouragement that they play well and to play hard. But, part of it included a warning. I always told them, “Keep your head turning.”
It was my perspective that, if they were constantly vigilant, they could avoid getting hit unaware or getting hit late by an opponent. Vigilance was a part of the game if they played aggressively.
But, there were some times in which they let their guard down. In 1999 during a game against Tyler Consolidated, I had to help Keithen off the field in the second quarter because of injury from a blind-side hit. In the third quarter of the same game, I had to help Eran off the field from a hit by the same player.
In 2005, Jeshua was blind-sided by a kickoff team “head-hunter” from West Virginia State. I could see it coming, and yelled a quick warning. But, the violent hit sent Jesh heels-over-head and hard to the ground. After the game he said that he had never before been hit so hard.
The same thing happened to Micaiah in 2007 in a game against Pocahontas County. Jamin got seriously crunched by an East Hardy lineman in 2011 when he was not paying good attention. Concerning each of these incidents, it was due to not keeping their head turning at those times. To my recollection, Ron is the only one of the sons who did not receive an unexpected bruising collision from an opponent.
By contrast, however, it happens that perhaps the hardest hit and the most often blind-sided people are those of the Church because they do the same type of thing — they let their spiritual guard down. They fail to keep their heads turning spiritually. Times are they fail to heed God’s warning through Apostle Peter, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Christians sometimes let down their spiritual guard and get blind-sided with lust. Christians sometimes let down their spiritual guard and get creamed by financial woes. Christians sometimes let down their spiritual guard and get blind-sided with weakness to lie. There are numerous possible reasons for let down. Nonetheless, when it come to temptation, when it comes to the pull of this present world system, and when it comes to dealing with the devil, Christians cannot afford to let our guards down.
It is imperative that we keep our heads turning. We must remain vigilant every day and all day. Apostle Paul affirmed it with the words, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of you, for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
King David once failed to keep up his spiritual guard, and it cost him. Moses let down just so briefly his spiritual guard, and it exacted a certain price from him. Peter let his down, and he was greatly ashamed. Perhaps the worst incident to cite involves the spiritual let-down with Adam and Eve, which leads us to reason that, when we let down our spiritual guard, it affects others. If anything, we need to keep our heads turning for the sake of others. We need to keep our heads turning for God’s honor and glory, too.
Jamin texted me about this subject, saying, “I do not remember getting blind-sided other than that one time. Every time a play would require me to chase downfield, I honestly remember telling myself what you always preached, ‘Stay low and keep your head turning.’ It saved me a lot of times because players would often try to blind-side me. But, I’d turn my head just in time and take them head on.”
That makes me smile. He let it be known that he actually put into practice what I said. Maybe the brothers did, too. I can die happy.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.