You may not realize this, but the most important document a professional football player has, apart from his contract, is the playbook. In it, are the various plays pertaining to every situation that can potentially occur on the gridiron. In a league wrought with such incredible talent, knowing the playbook can be a player’s greatest strength, or his most debilitating weakness. Particularly, for rookies and quarterbacks.
The quarterback is responsible for knowing the duty of every player on the field. He must understand protection, blocking schemes, the receiver’s routes, and a host of complicated reads based upon the scheme and positioning of the defensive, and sometimes even while the play is actually happening.
Breakdown’s Do Occur If you have ever played football, you know full well that things rarely occur the way they do in the playbook. What do you do when the play breaks down? What does the quarterback do when his protection falls apart? Sometimes, the best thing the quarterback can do is throw the ball away, or even take a sack.
Other times, he will have read the defense properly and just in the nick of time find his “hot” receiver. This of course requires recognition on the part of the receiver, who will either cut his route short, or simply run the “hot” route.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself, what does all this football talk have to do with faith in Jesus Christ? The answer is everything!
Opening Day Imagine this scene for just a moment. It’s Sunday afternoon. As you step onto the field your heart begins to race. With adrenaline coursing through your veins, you gaze at the team across the field. While pounding your helmet with the palm of your hand, you notice the dull roar of the crowd that eagerly anticipates week one of football season. The crazed fans have waited months for this. Kickoff is just moments away!
The crowd erupts as the football bursts into the sky. The ball is fielded and the return man eagerly heads up field. Nothing unusual transpires. The ball is placed on the twenty-two yard line as your offense trots onto the field for the first time. Although, the situation is familiar to you as the quarterback, there are several new faces on the roster. You have a brand new tail back, as well as, several new offensive linemen.
In the huddle all eyes are focused upon you. You and your coaching staff have decided to set the tone early, and the first play you have scripted includes your left wide out breaking for the post as your play action fake freezes the defense. Will the corner bite? All you need is a quick peek on his part.
As you break the huddle, you notice the defense has shifted. No problem, with a few minor adjustments in your blocking scheme your execution will be flawless. From under center your audible adjusts the line into the proper scheme. As the ball is snapped, you notice something wrong. The line is not doing what you had expected. It appears at least one of your new players has not effectively learned the playbook.
As you drop back you notice the left defensive tackle heading unabated toward you. Instinctively, you turn in the other direction to escape his pressure. In the midst of your turn, the blitzing middle linebacker plants the crown of his helmet directly into your chest. As your feet leave the ground, the ball separates from your possession. Blinded by the force of the ground meeting the back of your head, the roar of the opposing crowd lets you know the result of the play. 6-0 bad guys! The second possession yields similar results.
“Had we only studied the playbook!”
That’s Absurd As absurd as this scenario may sound, many of us approach our relationship with God in the same manner. We never study the Word of God and then become either angry or disappointed when our lives either get sacked by the devil, or we misunderstand the direction the Lord is leading us.
We then cry out in frustration, “Lord, why are you doing this to me?” When the problem all along is that we either forget, (I’m being kind) or we are too busy and/or apathetic to study the playbook. That is what the Bible is. It’s our playbook!
Therefore, let me ask; is the opening day of football season scenario I illustrated above, really all that absurd? We actually attempt to live our lives the same way.
Sacked! Let me give you a real life example regarding the importance of the playbook. Thursday, May 1st 2014, is the debut date of my new book God Culture. In preparation of the release, I huddled up with God to make sure everything is on track to go as smoothly as possible. In the huddle I called the play, “God Culture release on May 1. Break!”
Within the play are all of the responsibilities of each player to make the release happen. The formation for the play is the Understanding the Almighty series. My publisher, Morgan James, is the protection scheme. Then I have my skill players, The God Culture Blog is my quarterback. Everything revolves around it. I have my wide outs, Facebook, and Twitter. My featured back is Sportsfaith.com. When it’s time to punt, an article goes in the newspaper.
As I snapped the ball on what I thought was the final play before scoring, I was sacked. On the evening of Easter Sunday, I got the flu—and I was hit hard. I felt like my head was rammed into the turf. The funny thing is, I recognized the blitz but decided not to call an audible. My daughter had been sick for the prior two weeks. Yet I never went to the hot receiver. I did not rest properly, pump myself full of vitamin C, etc… Without adjustment, I stubbornly kept running the play that I had called.
Call the Play When I finally got up off the turf, I went back to the playbook. What many don’t realize is that not every play is designed to score. Some are purposed just to pick up a first down. Some even, just to get the ball on the proper side of the field for your kicker.
Just like the illustration I cited earlier, my getting sacked resulted in a fumble. Now I’m on defense! Therefore, if I don’t call my defensive play I am going to get run over. Based upon my opponent’s formation, I know I should to be in the “Get Healed” package. In this case, the proper formation is a 53 defense. Isaiah 53—verse 5, to be exact. “By His (Jesus’) stripes we are healed.” With every symptom, I run the play.
Play To Win With so little time left, I incorporated a triple blitz package. Yes, I know that is aggressive, but time is running out. I don’t play to lose. With only four minutes (days) left, I need the ball back.
My blitzers are prayer, worship and confession. I begin praying Isaiah 53:5. I also begin speaking it—out loud. I don’t care who is listening. I begin worshipping God and thanking Him. For an all-out blitz I get really radical. In the midst of my illness I start praying for others to get healed. Although that requires some radical faith, I have experienced miracles as a result. I am not talking about for me—who cares about me. I have seen others delivered from all types of afflictions while running this play.
Call Another Play Now this is important. If the first play does not get me the results I want. I go back to the play book. What is the next play for the situation I find myself in?
This time I come out in Deuteronomy 7:15! “And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.”
I shout out, “Devil, I know you hate me—lay it on him Lord!” By now, my neighbor’s think I’ve lost my mind—and I have. But I’ve gained “the mind of Christ.” (1 Peter 2:9) So I blitz sickness with Deuteronomy 7:15, and I don’t stop hitting until the whistle blows.
Undefeated Although I do not score on every series, I am undefeated. Yes, I have been scored upon. I have also had to play from behind on occasion, and even throw a Hail Mary pass or two. Yet somehow, I seem to win the game.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I can’t lose. If you know your playbook, neither can you. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
There is one play, however, that wins the Super Bowl of eternal life every time. You have seen it held up on signs in the end zone. You were forced to memorize it in Sunday school, and even though the enemy is fully aware it has been called, he can do nothing to stop it. It never fails. It is a miracle play—even greater than Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary from his days at Boston College. Amazingly, it only had to be run once, and from that time forward, everyone who calls it, instantly wins the game. His execution was perfect!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Know your playbook!
May God bless you and keep you!