September’s here, the new football season’s upon us, and people near and far are buying game tickets, planning tailgate and watch parties, and holding their fantasy football league drafts.
I’m one who falls into the latter category of football season preppers. Starting out decades ago in a league in Madison, I now play fantasy football with a bunch of guys from this area, who know a lot about pro football, its teams and players. They know the depth charts of all 32 NFL teams by heart. They remember statistics and injuries of individual players. If you want to know how many touchdown passes the third string wide receiver for the LA Rams caught last year, they can tell you without batting an eye. They know where the football pundits predict each team will finish in their division. This thorough knowledge of the league and its players is born of their: love for the game; immersion in all things NFL; ability to watch hours and hours of ESPN and the NFL Network, and a desire to win our league’s championship.
While I know a bit about league starters and the good teams and bad teams that inhabit the league, I am not one to dig deeply into the stats and projections. I’m not one to binge-watch the sports channels or spend countless hours, pouring over the thousands of fantasy football websites that guarantee to place me at the top of the standings in my league. Because I don’t do this, I usually find myself playing in the league’s Toilet Bowl (aka, the consolation bracket for the bottom four teams in the league).
This story of the standings in the league shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, however. It makes sense that the more the team “owners” know, the more they’re likely to win. The more complete their understanding of the players in the NFL, the more likely they’re able to make roster adjustments quickly and with success.
It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that this principal applies to other aspects of our lives. The more we know about our life’s work, the more likely it is that we’ll succeed in our careers. The more we study and immerse ourselves in subject matter at school, the more likely we’ll understand concepts, ideas and skills that should lead us to success—or greater enjoyment—while in school. If we keep learning and studying and focusing on the task, subject, hobby or skill at hand, year after year, it stands to reason that our experience will be richer as a result.
The same is true of our spiritual lives. The more we seize opportunities to learn about Christ, study his word, immerse ourselves in the practice of Christian living—the deeper our relationship with Christ becomes. The more we’re intentional about letting the Spirit invade our lives, the more likely it is that we’ll follow God’s lead or answer God’s call. The more we pray, engage in discussion about God’s word and presence in our lives—the more we worship, praise and thank God, the richer our lives will be because our primary focus in life will be the source of life, love and blessing now and always.
As we begin this new program year at the church, I pray you’ll seize on opportunities that lead to growth in your relationship with Christ, as well as immersion in the habits, practices and rituals of faith that leads to blessing, joy and a life that relies on the Source of life.