My boys are UT football fanatics. Their blood type is UT Positive. Just as orange as orange can be. And they come by it honestly. An inheritance that runs several generations deep.
And oh, this year’s team speaks of so much promise.
Talent. Passion. Purpose.
The boys wore jerseys everyday last week. Practicing formations out back and taking turns as Justin Hunter and Tyler Bray.
ESPN Gameday didn’t have to drive all the way to Knoxville to predict Saturday’s top pick. My nine-year old could have told you….
The VOLS were going to win against the Florida Gators.
Grant — now that boy gets “tearing-up” emotional about football.
And at 6 PM on Saturday, 104,000 other people we emotional, too. Gut wrenching, ear-piercing, horn blowing emotional.
Neyland Staduim busted at the seams with orange enthusiasts.
With belly’s full of chili, we took our places on the couch and sat in what would be our spot for the next three hours.
The VOLS were ready.
We had waited a whole week (ahem, eight years) for this win.
And I will be the first to admit …. The first three quarters, I thought we had it.
We looked better. We played smarter.
And we held the lead for most of the game. It was close, but I believed our passion was greater.
But as the game went on, our team got sleepy. And seemingly curled up for a fourth quarter nap in an Alligator swamp. Florida was eating us alive.
Orange fans had gone silent. Cameras scanned on disappointment and shaking heads. People filing out step by step. Saying goodbye to the dreams they brought in with them.
But no disappointment could match the one to my right. My nine-year-old. Holding a bowl of popcorn.
And holding back his tears.
“Aww buddy. This makes you sad, doesn’t it.”
“I am so sorry.”
I put my arm around him and snuggled him close. “You looked forward to this all week. So much excitement. Mom’s sad, too.”
He couldn’t speak.
I held him as we looked on to the screen. Watching the last two minutes tick down our loss to the Florida Gators.
Searching for words to make sense of his heartbreak…
“Grant your love for UT Football is more than just the love for a sport….”
Pointing to the game, “See all of those people there. You share a love for football with them, but really you share something else, too. God made you to be a part of something really big. God made you for Himself. Your love for this sport is a picture of that. Deep inside your heart is a desire for victory. You don’t just love football. You don’t just love to win. You love being a part of something bigger than yourself. That is how we are made. Cool, huh?
Still no words.
“But it is hard when that “something big” fails us. And the VOLS will fail us. But God never will. We don’t lose with Him. We aren’t just winners in Christ, we are more than winners. The Bible says we are “more than conquers.” God can turn everything into a win. Even death.”
We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
Patting his back, “Let’s go on up to bed.”
Still wearing his jersey, he snuggled up with his Smokey Dog pillow pet. As I tucked him in, he leaned in for a forehead kiss.
“Maybe next year.”
“Yeah.” He whispered.
So today, we strap our pads back on, shake the dust off our cleats and head back to practice. Putting our hope in the safest place. In our only sure victory.
Our undefeated Jesus Christ.
Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, not can my sword save me. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 44:5-6, 1 Cor 15:57
Reflect and Respond:
- Are there areas of you life where you risk your hope on the wrong thing? Relationships? Work? Money? Even our kids? Take a minute to thank God for creating you for in His likeness. Claim today that you are “more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus.”
- If someone you know is struggling with defeat today, take a minute to encourage them. Pointing them to their victory in Christ.
- I’d love to hear any experience you’ve had in a sad moment with your kiddos, too. What words has God given you to encourage them? Share your wisdom 🙂