I love sports – baseball, basketball, volleyball, football, or whatever. I love them all!
My love of sports was probably inevitable since my father was a coach. He also worked part-time jobs as a basketball referee and a baseball umpire. Therefore, much of my childhood was spent at some type of school sporting venue.
Then I grew up and became the mom of two athletes. I watched them play different sports from preschool through college. And now, I get to watch my grandchildren participate in various sports, and I get to watch my son coach the same high school sports my dad used to coach.
Yes, I love sports!
But ironically, I am not a very good athlete. I tried softball, basketball, and track in school. But the truth is, my coaches probably allowed me on their teams as a courtesy to my dad because I was not good at any sport. Not at all. So, I never really played, but I could keep a mean set of books for any sport. (See, I was a writer all along.)
Later in life, I did learn to enjoy a bit of running, and time spent at the gym was also enjoyable – for a season. But eventually, I resigned myself to the fact that I am NOT an athlete. So now, I just watch real athletes participate in the sports I love.
In fact, from where I sit in the bleachers now, sports are a lot more enjoyable – and a whole lot easier.
Finding the right perspective
From these bleachers, I have witnessed sports from the perspective of the coach’s daughter, the coach’s mother, the referee’s daughter, and even the athlete’s mom and grandmother. But I have never really known a sport from the perspective of a true athlete.
So when I sit in the bleachers and bite my nails or fume about the coaches and officials in frustration, I really have no clue. I may think I do, but I don’t. Win or lose, I go home without worrying over what I should have or could have done differently. I am merely a spectator, and my perspective of the game is limited.
Yes, I have witnessed the weight of the sport on my dad when he coached, and on my son, to some degree. I even remember what it was like for my dad as an umpire when he had to run to the car after a game to avoid irate fans. And of course, I have seen the anguish from a tough loss or unfair calls, and I’ve watched how those things impacted my child. But even with my lifelong interaction with sports, I still have a very limited sports perspective as a mere spectator.
And most athletes (along with coaches and game officials) agree that we spectators can be quite irritating. We seem to know everything about everything when it comes to the particular game we are watching. We could coach it better, call it better, and play it better – as long as we are sitting in the bleachers or reclining in our chairs.
But in reality, as spectators, we have no skin in the game! And it’s that skin, that total investment of self, that purchases the only legitimate perspective of the game. And for those investing skin in the game, it’s an all-or-nothing perspective.
Investing in the game
It reminds me of that old story of the farm animals that woke up one morning and decided to honor their beloved, hard-working farmer with a freshly made breakfast to start his day.
The ol’ milk cow Bessie contributed some creamy milk and butter. Henny Penny did her part by laying several brown eggs. But when it came time for Porky the Pig to provide some bacon, he balked.
“Wait a minute,” cried Porky. “Bessie, you and Penny are only giving some of what you have to Farmer Joe, but you expect me to give my all.”
In essence, Porky the Pig was the only one with skin in the game.
Now, for those of us with no skin in the game, for us spectators merely watching the games from the sidelines, we would do well to remember Porky’s lesson because it plays out in real life as well – especially in the life of a Christian.
As Christians, we are all on this journey together, but we are walking different paths to get Home to our Father. My walk does not cover the exact same path as yours. My trials and tribulations are not the same as yours. Neither are my victories. And I have a totally different assignment than you do too.
So far, my assignment included raising two sons. It has really been a lifelong assignment that never ends. Some days, I think I’ve done pretty well at my job; other days I wonder. Ultimately, my objective will be reached when both of my boys and their families meet me in Heaven at the foot of God’s throne. That will mean I carried out my assignment to completion.
But I was also given the task of teaching thousands of kids who only belonged to me for a few hours a day, Monday through Friday of each week. It was my job to instruct them about literature and life. And in the process, I showed them WHO my Father was by the way I treated them on a daily basis. I hope to see each of them in Heaven as well. (What rejoicing that will be!)
Much later in life, I got another assignment – to write about my Father and His world. It’s a pretty awesome job, and I never want to take it for granted. So, I keep on writing even when I feel like no one is reading, for I know I have an audience of One.
I have no clue what your assignment is today, but I have a good idea that it involves speaking and living God’s truth in love because I know the source of your assignment. And I pray you and I are both successful in our earthly assignments.
So, what’s the point of all this talk of athletes, fans, and perspective?
The point is, no matter where we walk today or whatever we undertake, God has already invested some skin in “our game.” And because of that skin, that sacrificial offering of His life for ours, God has the perfect perspective.
In this game called life, He sees from the ref’s lenses, as well as those of the coaches, fans, family members – and athletes. And from that perfect, sinless perspective, God is still mercifully touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Nothing is invisible to Him. No detail is too insignificant.
Truly, God knows the end from the beginning. And He declares us victorious because He has already defeated every opponent, including death, hell, and the grave. So, when we play by His rules and heed His voice, we are always more than conquerors – regardless of whom or what we face in life.
Even from my limited perspective here in the bleachers, that is clearly a win-win situation!