Sunday, January 12, 2014

What God Taught Me Through Auburn Football

I remember seeing a church sign in Auburn the weekend of the Iron Bowl that said, "HUMILITY: WE'LL EITHER HAVE IT OR NEED IT." As I started the mile long journey from the Rose Bowl stadium to my car after our heart breaking loss, I keep picturing this church sign in my head. I could hear the endless "Tomahawk Chop" (which is my high school's fight song, just by the way) coming from the stadium as FSU fans celebrated and felt humbled by this experience.

I then started to think back over my football experiences these last four years. My freshman year was a wonderful, unexpected football season full of memories I still cherish. My sophomore year was special in a different way as I started to spend game days with a phenomenal group of friends and it was far less about the football. My junior year was tough in several different ways; even without the 3-9 record, I was extremely sick all year and could not remain standing long enough to stay at most games.

Now this year, my senior year, has been truly magical. As I walked away from my last football game as a student heavy with sadness and defeat, the word "humility" kept surfacing. I thought about the life lessons God had inadvertently provided to me through the 2012-2013 Auburn Tigers football teams.

(NOTE: I am in no way suggesting that these moments in football are at all similar or as impactful as these Biblical accounts. These are simply truths I've seen about God as they relate to what I've experienced through events this football season.)

2012 Auburn Tigers: Sometimes God will put us through a tough season. 

In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a tall and mighty tree that is cut down to a stump. Daniel interprets the dream and tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is in fact the tree and that God is reducing him to that stump. Daniel 4:26 says: "The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules."
Christ reduced him to this stump in order to build him back up again one day and make him even more powerful. Because of this, in verse 37, Nebuchadnezzar says: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

Auburn vs. UGA, "Prayer in Jordan-Hare": Sometimes God will give us a miracle when we think it is too late.

John 11 tells the story of the death of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. The sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was very ill and soon to die, but Jesus insisted to go on to Judea and go to see Lazarus later. When he arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days and Mary and Martha accused Jesus of not coming soon enough. He tells them in verse 25 that He is "the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead even though it seemed to be too late. 

Auburn vs. Alabama, "Kick Six": Sometime God will present us with just the right opportunity. 

In Matthew 14, Jesus went up onto a mountain alone to pray while his disciples were sent ahead of Him in a boat. In order to catch up with the boat, which was already far from land, Jesus walks on water. His disciples think that He is a ghost and he urges them to not be afraid. Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on water, and as he does, he begins to sink in a moment of fear. Verse 31 states, "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” This event leads the disciples to realize in verse 33 that, "Truly you are the Son of God." Peter took this opportunity that Jesus presented to him and was rewarded by doing so.

2014 BCS National Championship: Sometimes God humbles us.

Instead of a bible story, the word "humbled" makes me think of the song "What If His People Prayed" by Casting Crowns. Based on the verse 1 Chronicles 7:14, a stanza says: "If My people called by My name/If they'll humble themselves and pray."

I am thankful for the opportunity to be humbled by God. At the beginning of a New Year, a lot of people strive to be new and improved and it is easy to because proud in accomplishments. This football season has reminded me that God can give and God can so easily take away. Football is a very small thing in the larger scheme of life, but it is also a beautiful reminder of what hard work, motivation, and even small mistakes can mean. I am proud of my Auburn Tigers and glad to be a part of the Auburn Family. I am also thankful that God provided me with some spiritual clarity through losing this football game. Though it is never easy, God puts us through tough seasons (and I'm not talking about a football season) and humbles us. He can also give us miracles and provide us with the right opportunity when we need it. 

Before I went to sleep the night of the National Championship, I read my One Year Bible, and this was one of the passages of the night:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

-Matthew 6:19-21

Sometimes, God uses very trivial things (like football) to illustrate important points in His Word. For me, the night of the National Championship was a night of great reminders from God.

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