Alabama or Auburn?

Alabama or Auburn?  That was the most important question to a group of teenagers when I moved to Alabama. I’m talking about SEC (South Eastern Conference) football – and it’s BIG in Alabama (and some other states, South Carolina included).

AlabamaWhile riding my bicycle down the street and meeting my neighbors for the first time, at the age of 15, they didn’t care about my name or where I was from, just which football team I supported. That day, I didn’t realize just how important it was to Alabamians that you choose a team and support them 24/7. Well, not really, but it does seem that way on occasion.

After living in Tuscaloosa for 13 years, a normal person seems to adopt the home team (Alabama – Roll Tide). You also learn not to go downtown or anywhere near the stadium within 8 hours of a game, unless you feel like parking instead of driving.

The Alabama/Auburn rivalry is generally pleasant, except at times when nearing and during the Iron Bowl (when the 2 teams meet head to head).

Despite being in the “Bible belt,” fans take football so seriously that many don’t mind attending a late night game on Saturday and forego church on Sunday. While living in Alabama, this bothered me; and it still does today.

Why is it that we are teaching our children – the future of the world – that football is more important than God?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good game, and enjoy the fellowship of friends gathering for a heated rivalry. The difference – I don’t care who wins. Sure, I’d like to see Alabama take another National Championship.  I’d rather see Army take one though (God is still in the business of miracles, right?).

Back to point – why do we promote sports so heavily over God?  We invite people to our houses (into our private lives) to watch a game, but are afraid to invite them to God’s house for the real game.

As a popular billboard once said, “Let’s meet at my house Sunday before the game – God.”meet_at_my_house

As the seasons bring beautiful weather, and with sporting events ramping up all around the nation, let’s remind our children that while sports are fun, God is number one! Let’s put him back at the center of our lives.

I’m not suggesting that when you meet someone for the first time, you ask them “Christian? Or atheist?” – but I am suggesting that we make it a point to allow God to Bless America by making Him the center of our lives.

The Rest of the Story

It seems that each of us get a little content in our own little world. Then, when we do, just when everything seems to be going all right, it happens. Our faith is challenged.

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2 NKJV)

This is probably the one story that, besides the crucifixion of Christ, truly shows a total commitment and faith in God’s ways over ours. Every time I read the account of Abraham’s pure faith, I am reminded of how I need to put more trust in God.

A few chapters earlier God told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:5).

In Genesis 17, the Lord appears to Abram and promises to make him a great nation if he will walk before Him faithfully. The Lord renames him Abraham, and to Sarai, the Lord gives the name Sarah. Furthermore, the Lord mentions that their son, whom He will grant them in their old age, Isaac will have numerous descendants (Genesis 17:19-20).

At this point, I can see that Abraham was confident in God’s promise. But when God comes to Abraham and tells him to sacrifice his only son*, whom God Himself has promised to give abundant offspring through, I have to wonder how Abraham, without a hint of doubt, obediently, and quickly followed God’s command. (Hmmm, “sacrifice his only son” – is this a premonition of God sacrificing His only son?)

We have no evidence that Abraham questioned God, but instead he demonstrated his faith through obedience. We all know the rest of the story: Abraham was within a second of taking his son’s life, when God revealed the rest of His plan.

How many times do we feel God leading us to something, only to allow our own faulty and limited logic stop us before we see God’s plan. If only we could stop thinking within our limitations and allow God’s ways to lead us. Then as the famous Paul Harvey once said, we might see “the rest of the story.”

* In Genesis 16, we learn that Abraham had a son with Sarai’s servant Hagar. This son, Ishmael, was promised by an angel of the Lord to also have numerous descendants, but was later separated from Abraham and his family in Genesis 21 due to conflict between the two boys.