The Gridiron, Part Two: The Gunslinger

Part One: Father, Son, and Game >>

You’ve been the quarterback as far back as you can remember. And while you’ve played in the past with varying degrees of intensity, your focus and dedication to The Game since digging into The Rules have increased. It may even be said that you are a completely different player since those earlier days. You feel different on the field. You’re not as fast, you’re not as accurate, but you’re more pro material than ever.

But getting there wasn’t a smooth journey. 

Being a young quarterback was – pun intended – a different ballgame. You recall times you bent (and even broke) the rules in order to get a first down. But those rules weren’t The Rules. In those days, you played the game by rules that you and others made up.

Both Father and Son were little more than figures of yesteryear … assuming they even existed in the first place. After all, if you can’t see them, how real are they? And “The Rules”? Maybe for other folks, but not you. Moving downfield is what it’s all about, right?

But then you started losing yardage. The blocking you relied on for so long is barely functioning. The interceptions increased, and so have the sacks. And what was with the officials? Suddenly, for no reason at all, you can barely execute some key plays before the whistle blows. Five yards here, ten yards there. The penalties add up.

From time to time, other players would tell you about getting into The Rules. You know, taking the time to really study how to truly play. But one day, after a particularly bruising number of downs in the wind and sleet, you called a timeout and fell to one knee.

Lost, broken, confused, shattered. You cry out.

Father, I’ve been playing without you for far too long. I need you. Without your help, I know I can’t win.

Some players leave the field, and some new ones enter. One of them hands you a headset. You’re told the Coach has a new set of plays for you.

Coach? There’s a Coach? I’ve been doing it all on my own up to this point.

You ask who the Coach is. Another player says he goes by many names:

  • Comforter
  • Intercessor
  • Paraclete

Unsure, you hear The Call for the next play. 

What kind of a play is that, you wonder. The snap, the dropback. No open receiver, but there’s a hole. You rush for your first First Down in quite a while.

Another play that you’re not familiar with comes across the new headset. But you connect with another player, and another First Down.

Hey, you could get really used to this…

After a few more strong plays, you decide to half-listen. Darn the luck, you get sacked. For a while, there is a tug-of-war between the plays you want to call and the plays you hear. Eventually, you decide to turn it over to the Coach.

His way, you reason, is the Best Way.

There soon is a flow to how you play. You feel so good about The Game, even the occasional missed pass or fumble doesn’t get you down. You know that you’re supposed to play this way. In fact, you wish you played this way from the beginning. But you realize the past makes you the player you are now. And what you do now is what matters.

What changed? 

The Rules didn’t change. And The Game sure didn’t get easier. In fact, it seems as if the other team really turned on the heat after you called His Name. The officials still blow the call every now and then.

So what changed?

You did.

You started caring about The Game itself. It dawned on you that it doesn’t last forever. At some point, the time is up, and everybody goes Home. You realized that every play matters. And every player matters. Every player makes the team work. And the team works when everyone is following The Rules. When a player falls, a fellow player helps him (or her) up. Even if that player is on the other team.

You know, you just know, that how you play is pleasing to those who matter. It matters to the Father, who built everything from nothing. It matters to the Son, who also played for a time. He set an example that everyone can follow, but not everyone will follow. It matters to the Coach, the Holy Spirit of God Most High.

And how you play is carefully watched by another. Every play is scrutinized. Every film is reviewed by him and those of his ilk. They sit across the line of scrimmage from your line. They probe for every weakness so that it can be exploited. Their goal is nothing short of your destruction.

But that’s an article for another time …