I realize that there may be some who read my blogs that make references to sports who don't really get in to, or even watch sports. Although I cannot fathom the concept, I know that there might be some. If I am talking about you, I want to recommend counseling. Of course I don't mean that! Well, maybe I do. I have asked forgiveness many times for the look on my face when someone says to me, "I don't like sports". To me, it's the same as saying "I don't like food". I really can't grasp the concept.
So wouldn't you know that here comes another reference to sports? Bear with me if you are not "in to" it. Or is it "into" it? Two words or one? I'm not really into (or in to) grammar. Is it hard reading the words of someone whose mind wanders like mine? Back on topic. There have been a few occasions in the NFL playoffs this year where it would appear, on the surface, that "one bad call" or "one bad play" wound up "losing the game" for the unfortunate team on the receiving end of the "bad call" or the "bad play." When the Dallas Cowboys played the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys seemed to have gotten away with a blatant pass interference that was called and then reversed. Rather than having the ball near the end zone, and a possible score, Detroit had to punt. This came at a critical point in the game and it shifted the momentum from that point on. As luck would have it, the Cowboys seemingly lost the next week to Green Bay when what looked like a touchdown catch near the end of the game was called a "no catch" after "further review." The touchdown would have given Dallas a lead with very little time left. Instead they lost because of one bad call.
Last week, the Seattle Seahawks were making a desperate late game comeback in their game against Green Bay with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks tried an onside kick after a score, which, in the NFL, is a play that hardly ever works. But, some poor guy for the Packers let the ball slip through his hands and Seattle recovered and then went on to score and win the game. One bad play cost them the game.
I say hogwash. I played baseball in high school and when we would lament about how one bad call or one bad mistake had "cost us the game" our coaches, who were always mean and yelled a lot, would get in our face and say, "NO, one bad call DOES NOT lose a game, the problem here is that you put your team in a position to where the game would hinge on one play, it's not the one call, it's EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE IT THAT COST YOU THE GAME." Now, we would whisper in the locker room that our coach was full of it and that had it not been for an errant throw to first that allowed the winning run to score, we would be celebrating. But, deep down inside, we got it. What about the batter that missed the sign from the coach in the 3rd inning? What about the play in the 4th when the left fielder made a seriously bad error in judgment that allowed a run to score when, had he made the right decision, the inning would have been over? What about the 12 strikeouts that we made against a pitcher who did not have his best stuff that day? It was a series of bad decisions and missteps that led to the point that yes, one play out of the hundreds that happened would appear to cost us the game.
I realize that what I am about to say is treading in dangerous waters because my words can be interpreted like this; "what Father Mike is saying is that when bad things happen to you, it's all your fault." No, that's not what I am saying. Sometimes, things happen that are beyond our control and there is not one single thing in the world that we could have done about it.
But not always. Sometimes, we bear some ownership in the things that happen to us. Sometimes we think that one "bad play" or that one "bad call" out of nowhere has cost us everything when in reality, it was a series of missteps that led to the moment when one "thing" seems to have sent the world crashing down. Sometimes, dare I say, the choices that we make are guaranteed to lead us to that "one bad thing" that brings the whole thing down. It's not a matter of "if" but "when".
I have known people who regularly get behind the wheel after way to many drinks. Over and over again. Rolling the dice. A pattern. Then they either get pulled over, or now have a DUI on their record forever, or worse. That one moment "ruined their lives". One bad moment. Out of nowhere. No, it was the repeated law breaking careless behavior. A series of bad decisions. Not if but when.
Ellen and I once had friends that would take a group of teenagers down to the beach and then let them drink because they would "rather let them drink around adults than have them drink on their own." One night, one of the 17-year-old girls at the house wandered off at night and was later found nearly dead from alcohol poisoning. One bad moment. One bad call. Out of nowhere. Nope. A series of bad decisions that led to what was bound to be inevitable. Not if but when.
There have been many circumstances in my own life where some bad thing has happened that I could clearly trace back to a series of bad choices and decisions. Fortunately for me, none of them have been life threatening. Maybe I've been lucky. The point in all of this is that we would do well to realize that the message we preach to our kids until we are blue in the face also applies to us. There are consequences for the choices we make both good and bad. Continued poor choices, or, a pattern of continued bad choices will lead to a bad outcome. "Luck" only lasts so long. Not if but when. Same can be said for good choices I suppose. I think it's a good idea to take a little inventory every once in awhile and to think about the regular choices that we are making and to take particular note of the patterns. Good? Bad?
If you note bad or poor choices and patterns, now is the time. Now is the time to bring God in. Now is the time to seek help and to seek accountability. Now is the time to ask for God's help. Now is the time to seek change. To seek transformation. To seek new self.