And just what are they playing for? A trophy.
It is the prize so greatly desired, the reward for all their effort and for the months of training and competing. But the Superbowl will soon be over and forgotten. The memorable thing for most players is not that they excelled against others but they excelled against themselves. The real contest is within.
I am trying to be the best possible Dave Black. Win or lose, that's the trophy I want at the end of the day. The "best I can be" means the best God created me to be and to do. This is the spirit of sports -- always striving for excellence.
As Christians, we must unflaggingly pursue spiritual growth. Just as you cannot complete a marathon without months of training, we should allot the necessary hours and energy to our spiritual lives as well.
For role models, we can look to the athletes. The way of the athlete is indeed hard. There is nothing but fatigue and pain. Sometimes you just want to go back into the stands and watch. Still, we are drawn to sports. The demand for total effort that sports imposes on us explains its popularity. It's a chance for mere men and women to achieve greatness. To those who reject sports as ungodly or un-Christian, I would say: Do something to show as much pluck and determination before assuming an attitude of superiority.
Sports reminds us that winning is important but trying is everything. Someone has said of elite marathoners that they make the effort and make it more often. The unknown amateurs at the back of the pack do the same, driven by their need to do their best, to make the effort, and to make it more often.
When people become committed to winning a prize or a trophy, it means that they are committed to a struggle. Becoming a mediocre athlete is not all that difficult. You just settle for less. But when life is worth living, there is only one thing more important than doing something well. It is doing it better.
Christian friend, never settle for anything less than God's will for your life. "Wherever you are, be there all there, and live to the hilt whatever you are convinced is the will of God for your life." So said Jim Elliott before his martyrdom.
People may say you are too old. Tell that to Tom Brady. The pursuit of excellence never ends.