Faith and Sports by Eric Jensen
A moment, on the value of a backup plan.
This week the NFL was wrecked with injuries. My Broncos in particular lost QB Drew Lock. In doing so they taught a valuable lesson. The lesson of having a backup plan. In late June John Elway refused to bring in a feasible backup because he would hurt Drew Lock’s apparently fragile ego. One, if you can’t handle competition you shouldn’t be playing in the NFL. Two, that half-wit snake-oil salesman John Elway should be fired for treason against his own team. You could have signed Patriots all-star Cam Newton or Andy Dalton!
It shines a light though. That failed used car salesman gave me a moment to make a larger point. It is important to have a backup plan. In life, in career, and perhaps even in faith. Because sometimes your starting QB, the thing you believe so deeply in that it is the only course of your existence gets crushed into the turf by a hurling Steelers linebacker. What then?
You can’t give up. You can’t just crawl into a hole and die. You can’t be the Denver Broncos. You need to be the Philadelphia Eagles: have a backup, and ride that backup to victory.
My faith was shattered in March when the world decided it would descend into darkness and throw my entire life into chaos. I moped for a few weeks but quickly realized I needed a backup plan. For me that was embracing a new philosophy on what God’s role is. (I wrote more on that back in March.) And so I moved on. Got a backup plan.
I realize you came for more than 275 words but have school work to get to. So please enjoy this first draft of nature writing I am doing for a class. I think it ties in well with faith because I feel closest to God when seeing the natural world. (Find a backup plan, and FIRE JOHN ELWAY!!!!!!!!)
I wake up in the dark. The trees have been banging my window all night. Usually at the bottom of the canyon we end up getting a breeze. I like going outside at night and getting just a little bit cold. I like the wind on my face. I love wind, I love weather. I reach to turn on my lamp but it doesn’t work. Reach for my phone, there is the text, classes are canceled, sweet long weekend gets longer! After a while I get sick of not having power, so I pack up my bag and walk out of my dorm and into the outside world. It is windy, windy enough that the wind seizes you as you walk through it. The kind of wind that reminds you of road trips to Boulder through Wyoming to visit your family, when you get out of the car at the truck stop and feel the wind of the plains seize you. That type of wind. My love for the wind comes from what it represents to me, freedom, paired with force. I love that the wind just roams across America, it doesn’t take orders from anyone. It just sweeps across the countryside and takes with it what it pleases, that sort of power is awe inspiring. So I walk down campus and the first thing I notice once I exit the student union, the proud maple tree in front of the book store has been uprooted. Oh well, it must have been an old tree I think. I continue to walk through the campus, branches are everywhere snapped away from trees. Man I guess it was pretty freaking windy, I tell myself. I get to presidents circle and what I see amazes me, three tall pines, yanked out of the ground. I have never seen wind do that. Uprooted you can see the complex infrastructure below that keeps the beasts alive, that allows them to drink water from the soil. Just down the way a proud oak tree lays across the sidewalk. The same oak tree I had leaned up against while having socially distant lunch with a friend a few weeks ago. A tree that provided shade and cover from the elements, gone. How long had that tree been there? My parents both work for the university so I have been on this campus my entire life. So 21 years at least, probably longer, I look up an old photo in a library database on my phone because I am curious, that tree was there in 1967. It had probably been there longer. Yet it could not stand up to the massive power of the wind. It had been torn away from the ground, yanked, like a peach from its branch. I felt the urge to touch it, and so I did. I climbed atop the trunk and walked all the way to what used to be the highest branches. Tree’s are fascinating, the inner working of them but also the complex branch systems we don’t take the time to look up and see. All reaching out to absorb the sun. Trying not to overcrowd each other, trying to co exist. That tree would never get to see another sun rise, another sun set. I returned a few days later and it had been chopped down into stumps and dragged away. The force of nature continues to leave me in awe.