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Faith and Sports – by Eric Jensen
Here we are, October! I think I’ve basically exhausted my love for God’s greatest month in this column so I’ll keep it short. October is the time of year where God shows us there is still some good left in the earth. He turns up the AC dims the light and gives us some smooth oranges and yellows to sip in. He also gives me personally every major American US sport being played at the same time. We are just two days away from hockey being played which is just fantastic. However, for October this year I decided to focus less on me and more on you. I asked the congregation for when they felt most connected to God when not in church and I got a lot of responses. I’m not letting myself off the hook! I'm going to add a touch of commentary to each of these below in italics. I hope you enjoy, and see you in November!
“I like to get up before sunrise and workout hard. Pilates, Total Gym, Free Weights, Tread Mill or Aerobics. The soothing voices of a familiar workout tape or just myself concentrating on every move. No matter how worried I am about the upcoming day, my children, my spouse or the world, the endorphins produced work miracles. It also works because I have exerted myself and my mind is clear of worldly debris. I often, but not always, follow my workout up with prayer or go back to bed and do relaxation meditation. I get some of my best answers to "problems" during and after my workouts. They make me thankful for being able to move, see, hear. At the risk of sounding weird, I guess I would say, that during my workouts, I feel God or Christ embracing me and am finally able to really listen to him.”
Barb has about three great humble brags in here. One she works out, two she’s got a fire work out tape, and three she actually follows through with a work out routine which is more than I can say for myself. That’s awesome that you find God in exercise! Similarly for me sometimes when I am hiking and just slogging through the countryside my mind starts to focus more and I gain a real connection.
I very much enjoyed your article for September. As I ponder your question, many things come to mind. In the vein of what you wrote about football, I have to say that I feel close to God with soccer. My sons both started playing soccer when they were 5 years old, so I have been watching soccer for 42 years now. It brings to mind for me: God’s gift of our changing seasons, family and long-term friendships. We have been blessed by many wins and losses, but enriched by both. Then there have been the blessings of Olympic soccer, World Cup soccer and now RSL. My sons were on the high school soccer team for the school first ever state championship; and there was another one in a couple years for my second son in the 90’s. The coach has been National Coach of the year several times and now he has been coach for both my granddaughter and grandson during their high school time, before he retired last spring. My grandson was on the team now when they were state champions for 2 years in a row. I know it was a blessing for our family because our second son has carried it on and has been coach for his own children for many years. Soccer has certainly blessed our family.”
Thanks for sharing Jean. That’s pretty awesome how soccer has affected you in such a positive manner. Football is also when my mother and I are closest, watching on the couch together. It’s awesome that things as simple as sports can bring us closer together as humans and help us get along. That’s why I love them so much and honestly why I write this column!
“Thoreau said we don't take enough time to address our spiritual needs. We are so concerned with all the other things we "need." So, I guess the first problem is when do we take time to address our relationship with God. It sure isn't football for me. I think it is sunsets. We have wonderful sunsets from our home - and it is hard not to think of the glory of God, the beautiful universe He has created for us. See Psalm 119, verse 1 - I had to look it up. And that reminded me of the eclipse last year. That was awesome....and made me feel closer to God. Unfortunately, they don't happen that often”.
This is a short excerpt from Linda Brown. One of God’s greatest gifts to us are sunsets and sun- rises. They both mark such a moment of relief in my opinion. In sunsets you are letting go of all your problems and saying “here God, take these from me for a bit and let me get some rest.” With sunrises we are given a new chance and a clean slate at another attempt to live our best lives. Thanks for writing in Linda!
Something inside my soul comes alive when I’m surrounded by God’s splendor in nature. I feel close to Him because I see this beauty and it brings me peace. Thank you for your sports articles I really enjoy them.”
Thanks for the kind words Kathy. We truly are blessed to live in such a beautiful state where we can get into nature and connect with God.
In response to your question about what my "football" is, I would have to say it is trail running. It focusses me on what is in front of me (so that I don't fall down and break my wrist), but also allows my mind to quiet and let my heart and ears open to what God may be speaking to me. The only other activity I have that helps me to open my heart and ears to what God is saying is Tai Chi. If I am doing it correctly, I have to stop my own thoughts and focus directly on what I am doing, and that helps to really clear my mind and open my ears and my heart. Maybe one other "football" for me would be overtime hockey. Every pass, every hit, every shot takes my total attention and puts me on the edge of my seat. It is that same attention that opens my heart and ears to what God might be saying.”
Sick brag that you run, Dad! Tai Chi is interesting in that it is a spiritual activity. Obviously it would make people feel closer to God (even if you do look dorky doing it in our back yard). Overtime hockey I would have to agree with; nothing like the fear of every single shot ending the game for your team of choice.
“Just read your article in the Trumpet and couldn't resist. For me it is scuba diving. It didn't happen for me right away. Diving is a bit scary at first what with all the strange, heavy equipment and breathing and having a heightened sense of yourself in a very foreign setting and breathing. A year ago Mark and I had the great privilege to spend 12 days in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and I reached my first benchmark of 100 dives. And it happened to me - what you're talking about, Eric, amid glimpses of the craziest creatures in brilliant multi-colors only an inch long; in a 15 meter Whale Shark gliding by as if I could touch it; by surprise-catching a current and spreading my arms like Superman and literally soaring over a giant coral peeking into the black, infinite deep; and trying to underwater gesticulate/communicate with a fellow diver only to realize you are both looking through a connected string of translucent jellyfish. Talk about the magnificence of God's creation. So humbling is our place in it. And I'm so wanting to see more and be more a part of it. We weren't created to breathe under the sea, but our desire to feel the presence of God in it has brought inventions to get there. Thanks be to God!”
Thanks for sharing Deb. I have been scuba diving about seven times but my last dive was in 2017. For me I would say it bought me closer to God and really inner peace because of the silence. It truly is just you and your breath. It may be the best meditation in the whole world. To see that there is so much more on this earth other than us is also extremely humbling, I agree.