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Faith and Sports – by Eric Jensen
As many of you know I am a die-hard Denver Broncos fan. It has been a rough year thus far, to say the least. Denver is currently on a four-game losing skid and by the time you read this, will probably have lost seven in a row. Loss in sports is painful. “You play to win the game” said former Jet’s coach Herm Edwards in a now notorious press conference. “If you don’t win you’ve lost.” There are no little victories in sports. As a sports writer I could tell you the Arizona Cardinals are a lot better than their 1-4 record. But that doesn’t matter because they have still lost four games. Their fans are still disappointed, and their coach is still in jeopardy of losing his job.
This month’s article is focused on the idea of loss. Why does God make us experience this very raw emotion? Why does God feel it is necessary to take, take, take? I have been asking myself that question alot for the past 5 months. David and Christine Larson (long time members of Mount Tabor) are moving away, back to Montana. What you may not know is that the Larsons are my godparents and, as far as I am concerned, a third set of grandparents to me. They have been there for me my entire life. I would say outside of my immediate family I have spent the most time with them in my life. With a lack of grandparents or immediate family outside of my parents and brothers near me, I am losing my dearest friends and closest confidants and two people I love. So I have been asking myself a lot recently: why does God take so much away?
I find that most of the time I rationalize these type of things through sports. How do sports teams learn from loss? Well coaches go back, watch film, and make adjustments. How does that relate to faith? Well when Jesus was taken from his followers and disciples they didn’t just say, well crap, that’s that! It’s time for us to just go back to our daily lives. No, they went back, remembered what Jesus had taught them and then shared it with the general public. That’s mostly what the New Testament is. The disciples going back, watching the tape, and re-iterating Jesus’ message. God took away Jesus not only to save us from our sins, but also in my opinion to bolster the work of his disciples. If Jesus had just stayed around I don’t think most of the work done in the New Testament would have gotten done, honestly. The loss of Jesus made the disciples get off their butts and start doing some real work.
In sports loss is the worst possible outcome. However it is not always bad. The worst teams with the most losses get the highest draft picks so they can move forward. The best players sit atop the draft and the reason the worst team gets the best pick is so that they can get better and grow. Moving forward in much the same way as how losing Jesus caused the disciples to move forward.
Loss sucks. There is no other way around it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen for a reason. God doesn’t take people away from us to be a jerk. I believe God does it to strengthen us. To help us grow. Without loss there is no movement. You have to lose something sometimes to make a move forward and see a new purpose. So if you’ve lost someone, something, or if your team keeps blowing it in the fourth quarter, it isn't because God’s a jerk. It’s because He wants you to get better for the next time around.
For David and Christine Larson, my beloved godparents. With love, Eric