am I more willing to represent my team than I am my faith?
Kyle and I LOVE college football. I’m talking (almost) never miss a Saturday, wake up early to tailgate, College GameDay kind of fans. There is something special about the grit, passion and pride of college athletes representing their schools that gets us excited. Tailgating, beer, delicious food, and team spirit makes being a college football fan so great. We’re all in.
One Saturday night in early September, Kyle and I had a wedding to attend in Louisville, KY. The Clemson football team also had a date that night in Louisville with Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals. This was one of the many times I wish I could have been in two places at once. Life always happens like that doesn’t it? We decided to drive up to Louisville to cheer on the newlyweds from our church pews, and the Tigers from our iPhones.
What I’ve learned through two and a half years of marriage, is road trips are great for talking about anything and everything with your spouse. They’re trapped! The long hours are perfect for playing games, debating over the radio, and deciding which gas station has the cleanest restrooms. On our drive from Nashville to Louisville, Kyle and I opened up the topic of whether or not we enjoy attending away games for our college football teams.
To my surprise, Kyle’s answer was a solid “no.” Hard pass. He doesn’t love wearing his team colors in an opposing team’s stadium out of fear of getting heckled. Fair enough, I thought. Some fans can be rude. I didn’t share Kyle’s feelings on this topic; and feel like a true fan supports their team in any arena. Orange and purple clothes are on my body throughout the entire season, no matter where we are. I could tell we weren’t going to come to an agreement, so we put it on the shelf. Next topic.
We arrived in Louisville safely, and settled into our hotel for the night. My body was resting, but my mind was running laps. In true, over-analytical fashion, I couldn’t let go of the conversation I had with Kyle about representing our teams. I remember thinking, Kyle is always enthusiastic about football. Why would he hide his school spirit in the presence of tension? Is he all in or not?
The Lord stirred my heart that night, and I felt Him say, Mandy, would you walk into an arena of opposition, and still openly, proudly claim ME? Are you all in or not?
God always punches me in the gut when I least expect it.
Faith isn’t easy, but some aspects of faith are easier for me to live out than others. It’s easy for me to encourage people, share positive affirmations and support others who are pleasant. That’s the fun stuff because it feels like a friendly, familiar home game. It feels safe.
The away games (and opposition), are what sometimes makes me want to timidly watch from the back row instead of proudly representing Jesus outwardly. Like showing patience when I am at my limit (this is so hard!), following through with a dream God has placed on my heart, or showing love to someone who is heartless. However, I imagine these are the arenas God gets excited about us boldly running into. Our moments of fear are God’s moments of anticipation; He’s waiting in that space to encourage us to remember Him. He’s waiting to give us strength, and to reveal His goodness through us. If anyone understands waiting, it’s Him. He waits on us in our moments of fear all of the time; ready to love us regardless of which route we take.
As I continued to process my conversation with Kyle, and relate it to faith, I started to understand the meaning behind Kyle’s answer more and more. Instead of judging him for what I viewed as a lack of loyalty, I started to appreciate his honesty and understand his side more and more. I think God works the same way. He understands our fear and discomfort when we timidly face opposition, but it doesn’t change the way He longs for us to let Him work through us. Whenever we have an opportunity to represent Jesus in an uncomfortable setting, it’s because God, in His sovereign glory, believes in us enough to call us there. Be encouraged.
Love y’all – have a great day!
Ask yourself: am I willing to represent Jesus in any arena of life?
When you feel like you want to hide in the face of opposition, what or who can you cling to for motivation to stand strong?
When people look at you, do you think they see the fruits of the Spirit through your actions?