A few weeks ago I spent the afternoon with my two sons watching Maidstone Utd play Billericay Town. The game was one of those ‘must win’ matches after a run of indifferent results had seen the Stones lose their commanding lead at the top of the Ryman Premier League. Furthermore it was against a team whose hometown was also that of a number of CVM colleagues; so bragging rights were at stake!
As we waited for kick off I got thinking once again about the highs and lows we go through as supporters, and how results can determine our mood for days afterwards. For football mad James (6), it really is just a game; he cheers when we score, gets excited at free kicks and penalties, asks loads of great questions, but win lose or draw comes away with the same big smile on his face at having been to the match. Matthew (24) understands the game and, as a decent player himself, enjoys watching, but really wants to be out there bossing the midfield. For me, supporting is 90 minutes of keeping in check those traits of the clichéd football fan that would at the very least embarrass my sons and certainly not endear me to friends at church. I love the game, but as someone who has also played a bit I sense myself heading or kicking every ball, sense the aggression I had as a ‘no nonsense’ central defender emerging, and feel the urge to appeal every injustice I consider to have been perpetrated against my team.
For Christians, times of study and reflection help in drawing closer to God. As football fans we might well reflect on a God who is without question our greatest fan; on the fact that He loves each of us deeply, despite our shortcomings. God cheers us on, wanting us to achieve everything He created us uniquely to be. When the world throws up defeat and disappointment He shares in our sorrow. In times of victory He celebrates with us. More than the most committed fan, His loyalty is unshakable. Quite simply, ‘if God is for us, who can be against us?’ Rom. 8:31.
As fans we take a keen interest in the team we follow. How much more does God know and love each of us? Pondering this draws me to the wonderful expression of God’s knowledge of us, and His great gift to allow us to know Him in Psalm 139. If you’ve not read it recently look it up now and be blown away by the completeness of His knowledge and love of us. Celebrate that His gift is available to all.
As for the Stones, they won 3-0, their lead maintained and points cushion restored. Back home with my wife and two daughters, the six of us had dinner together before playing energetic games long into the evening. I’m certain the same would’ve happened if our team had lost, because despite our real passion, football really is just a game (as James knows). Of course, the fact that Billericay lost the return fixture two weeks later just confirms that God also wears Amber and Black!
Image credit: Alejandro Escamilla