Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sports fans

It's late, late enough that even Jamaica walked down the hall, pawed at E's door, asking to have her kennel closed for the night.  Kind of like a little kid being tucked in.  Beve and E have fierce colds today.  Fevers, coughing, aching--you know, the whole works.  I've been trying to stay away from them, but this isn't really a very big house.

E spent most of the day curled up under a blanket on the couch, except for the few minutes this afternoon when she checked her email.  Then, fever, cold and all, she danced a little jig right there in her bedroom, and bounced out with a huge grin on her face to say, "I got into grad school."  She's been anxiously awaiting this news, finally resigned herself to not having made the cut and trying to be at peace with that.  I wonder how often God allows things to be delayed until we come to a real place of peace within ourselves, a peace that comes, not from a change in circumstance (as E told me today) but wholly from a sense that God has a plan for us exactly where we today.

When E told Grampie the news, his first question was, "Does this mean you're going to change your allegiance?" (not that he said it quite that coherently, but she knew what he was asking) See, E's program is a Master's of Communication in Digital Media at the University of Washington.  Now I'm sure there are a few of you out there who don't understand the significance of this for E (or most of our family), but let me tell you, it's no small thing to go to 'the other university' in our state.  To become a huskie.  A dawg.  In fact, it's a little like joining your enemy's army.  You see, we're Cougars.  Not quite born, but definitely raised to bleed crimson and gray.  It takes a strong stomach to even think of turning purple and gold. And E reassured her grandfather that she'll always be a Cougar, even if she has to be something of a closet one now and then for the next season of her life.  Because she gave him that answer, Grampie was able to move on and actually congratulate her on getting into the program.

It's a funny thing about allegiances, isn't it?  I'm not sure there's really anything else in the world like sports fans.  There are some fans who are so fanatic about their teams that they never miss a game, deck out their houses, cars and even themselves in the colors and accoutrements of said team. And love the reputations that accompany their fan-dom.  Oakland Raider fans, for example, dress up like pirates and thugs and are proud to be obnoxious.  The Green Bay Packers like to wear strange cheese hats on their heads.  Sometimes stadiums and arenas are filled with people (even the coach) who all got the memo to wear the same color.  This is an effective way to show support, but sure looks strange, especially when white is the chosen color.  And then there's the students standing and students bouncing.  Once I had the misfortune of 'sitting' in the student section at WSU for a basketball game, and (if I hoped to actually see the game) had to stand the whole time, except (counter-intuitively) during time-outs.

All this dressing, acting, being alike has several purposes, as do most things.  To encourage the team, to disrupt the opposing team, and, of course, to be known as a fan.  And when I think about it in spiritual terms, it's a great analogy to what we're meant to be as His disciples.  "The world will know that you're my disciples if you love one another."  Love is the action that points us out as one of His chosen ones.  Part of His team, so to speak.  Loving each other, clearly, is not a natural thing, or Jesus wouldn't tell us that it is something that sets us apart. No, it's only something a Christ-one can do.

In part, of course, we love so that we encourage each other.  Obviously.  We bear each other's burdens, 'encourage each other while today is still today.'  We should be each other's biggest cheerleaders, on the sidelines of each other's lives to cheer our brothers and sisters on to victory in whatever they're struggling against, or working toward.  What we can't bear with them, we can certainly root for on their behalf.

And, at the same time, our love for each other disrupts the enemy.  The last thing the enemy wants from us is love for each other.  His goal is to create enmity between people, to have us turn on each other.  So to love, especially the love that lays down its life for a friend, is anathema to satan.  He is destroyed by such love.  He was essentially by the love Christ showed: "The amazing proof of God's love is this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  It's that love that won.  And that love that we can extend to our brother and sister--the love of Christ on the cross.  And this is the love that wins for His Kingdom, and destroys the enemy.

I like cheering for teams.  I like having an allegiance when I watch a game of any sport on TV.  It makes the game more fun.  E and Beve can watch basketball without caring who is playing, but I'm not like that.  I want to root for someone.  And I think that this is especially true in the Kingdom.  We know who we're rooting for.  And if we're at all confused, the Holy Spirit is present to clarify it for us.  This is a fight to the finish I'm talking about, a 'game', if you will, with eternal consequences.  So let's love like we mean it, and allow it to color our faces with His face-paint, cover our chests with His insignias, and our lives with whatever He might use to make the world know that we are disciples--that we really, really love one another.

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