Micaiah and Jamin attended last weekend’s college football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech, which is Jamin’s favorite college team.
It was a huge setting for a football game. More than 156,000 were in attendance. Both of them exclaimed how exciting the atmosphere was.
But, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing better than high school football on Friday nights. One aspect of it all has to do with the interactions between the coaches and players that I get to see. Players do not always have to be right to be wrong in the eyes of the coaches when game plans are at stake. I remember, in particular, a certain play Jeshua once made which looked good when it happened, but was grossly wrong in the eyes of the coaches.
Late in the third quarter, the opposing offense lined up in a formation that had the clear markings of running a play to the short side of the field along their sideline. Jeshua, who played outside linebacker on defense at the time, was positioned on the opposite side.
When the ball was snapped and the play started moving as expected, Jeshua sprinted from his position and tackled the quarterback from behind for about a 3-yard loss. I tell you what, it looked good to me. I clapped my hands and yelled, “Way to go, Jesh!” Excited stands-fans cheered, too, at the defensive play.
I happened to be standing directly behind the team’s defensive coordinator. While many were cheering because of what was viewed as a good play, the coach, on the other hand, held his game-plan ground about the play.
He raised his hand as high as he could stretch with his index finger pointed to the ground, and started yelling, “Jeshua, stay at home! Stay at home!” When Jeshua realized his name was being called, coach reiterated with the same gesture, “Son, stay at home! Stay at home!” Jeshua nodded knowingly.
It was then that I remembered. Jeshua had been reprimanded on a couple of occasions during the season for forsaking his contain position as an outside linebacker. Coach later explained how he could envision an opponent’s offensive coordinator recognizing and exploiting such loss of contain for large rushing gains, which could, conceivably, make a game difference.
I had always instructed our boys to do what the coaches said to do, and be where the coaches want them to be. Jeshua’s play, although appearing acceptable, was, in fact, a play that thwarted the coach’s prescribed design. So, I felt a little sheepish for applauding the play.
This, however, makes for a powerful spiritual consideration.
Primarily, it reminds us how easy it is to fall into affirming moral behavior that runs contrary to the revealed will of God. For example, we unwittingly glorify couples who ignore God’s guidelines for the institution of marriage. We make heroes out of people who ingest vast quantities of beer. We acquiesce to the social pressure to approve ungodly sexual practice.
If you do not think it is true, make an honest evaluation of what is in the print media. Honestly evaluate TV commercials. Honestly evaluate public opinion. We are, oh, most certainly, cheering on in many ways that which may appear acceptable to humanistic reasoning, but is unacceptable to the standard of God’s expectations.
All the while, God in Heaven is raising His hand, and pointing down to the Cross of Jesus Christ. He is holding the moral game-plan ground He has stipulated, and is calling to those who will listen, “Stay at home!” It is critical for parents to “stay at home.” It is imperative for the Church to “stay at home.” It is compulsory for society to “stay at home.”
We are being grossly remiss for cheering on those who forsake positions of moral contain. The more we affirm it, the more it encourages others to forsake it. All the while, Satan recognizes it and is making some incredible end runs for significant societal and spiritual gains.
By the way, I pulled for the Volunteers team out of spite because Jamin’s favorite college football team is the Hokies. I raised my boys to be West Virginia Mountaineers fans, and he opts for Virginia Tech? Go figure.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.