Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Football Folly

Sorry, I will not be posting random videos of football players tripping and falling down.  That's another (hilarious) show.

But the new season kicks off tonight!  And I'm not sure that I'm ready.

Preseason never prepares me for the real gridiron grit, and until earlier this week, I thought I was alone.  I'd been thinking that there's a key element missing in the theory of preseason, and that is this: since the big-name, first-team guys start (usually) every game but only play a limited number of downs or series, they never learn how to finish.  And I just don't think you can go into the regular season - as a player or as a fan - not knowing how your team finishes.

Our world is full of half-finished projects.  Subdivisions with one or two houses, blindsided by the economic crash that put construction on hold.  Newly-built strip malls sitting vacant on the sides of our highways.  There's a road in my town where the street crews have not, in several months, determined to fix the giant hole in the road but have instead put a thick metal sheet on top and several cones all around it and there it sits.  Projects in various stages of completion that started most likely with vision but fell apart somewhere in the middle because people didn't plan on how to finish.  Not once they started taking the hard hits.

My generation is full of a go-getter spirit and half-finished projects.  Drop-outs.  Run-aways.  Quitters. Resigners.  Divorces.  Because there's not a strong enough emphasis any more on finishing.

Rookie tight end Coby Fleener (Indianapolis Colts) did an interview with the local news media about the team's upcoming first game against the Chicago Bears.  Everyone is waiting to watch how the new-look Colts stack up against a good team in a regular season, when the guys have to go the distance.  Fleener articulated precisely what I'd been thinking about.

Of course, now that I'd like to give the guy credit and quote him verbatim, that story is nowhere to be found on the channel's website.  So I'll do as best I can:

"I think we're ready.  We haven't really been in there to play a full four quarters, but from what I've seen, we're on the right track.  I think we're ready."  (Because football players always seem to repeat themselves.  And oh, by the way, this football player is also very cute and remarkably articulate; he looks kind of like Bob (Scott Foley) from The Unit.)

Anyway, he has no clue.  He thinks they are probably ready, but he admitted they haven't played a full game.  So finishing will be a new experience for these first-stringers.

And no, it's not just doing what you've done until it's over.  Finishing is an entirely different journey all in itself; it is its own art.

Ask Jesus.

Finishing wasn't more barefoot-walkin', boat-hoppin', bread-breakin', leper-touchin', authority-preachin'.  Finishing wasn't another three years or thirty years or sixty years of the same stuff He'd done to get Himself to the Sanhedrin.  What He knew, what He'd been doing, every moment leading up to this one wouldn't cut it.  Finishing...was a burdened walk up a shallow hill, three nails, two thieves, and one moment.  Three days later.

Finishing always culminates in a moment.

That's what makes it unlike the rest of the game.  It's not just doing what you've been doing, keeping up your energies.  It's about knowing how to seize that defining moment, that last second.  Making a statement.  It's not about running out of time; finishing is about something timeless.

Finishing well takes more than reaching that point where you say, "Ok, that's over."  It's about capturing that one chance, that one moment - on a scoreboard, on a project, on a mission, on a cross - to put it away.  It's about reaching that place with strength, with integrity, with purpose, and with finality where you can say with certainty,

It is finished.

And that's when it matters.  Because it's nice to watch your team play and play well, but it's more than a little hollow if they fail to finish and walk away with a win.  And because it's nice to have a Son of God to challenge the law and turn love on its head, but it's more than a little hollow if He fails to finish and walk away from that grave.

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