I heard somewhere that the NFL season began this week, but all anyone is talking about is the national anthem. I used to care about that game, even found it thrilling moving an odd-shaped ball around a patch of grass at great risk to life and limb. Back before an overdose of politics and money ruined the game, I grew up in a multi-generational family of football fanatics in a Midwestern agrarian culture where it was the soul of community life in the autumn. In my high school football playing days I was a Friday night quarterback and Dad was a Monday morning quarterback. It was the busiest season of the year on the farm—harvest time—but he never missed a game, home or away. I always wondered how an interior lineman at the University of Iowa in his day gained his quarterbacking expertise, but I valued my life too much to ask. If I had a bad night I could not stay out late enough—and it sure better not be past curfew—to avoid his critique delivered in incredulous tones.  “What were you thinking…third and long calling an off tackle slant…?   Couldn’t you see that receiver was covered like a blanket before you threw that interception…?” A good Friday night, on the other hand, meant he’d be sound asleep and I could collapse into bed basking in glory without confrontation. And Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning were met with silence, the highest praise I ever got from my old man. I learned to relish the silence and, at his SRO funeral service, I learned that, in spite of his substantial accomplishments, Dad’s humility would never allow him to gloat, even over his own sons. Long after he was gone Mom told my brother and me that behind the stony game night façade and 6-cent cigar he was bursting with pride for his boys. I also learned, years later, that God is sovereign. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His will, so Monday morning quarterbacking my own failings in life is as futile as Dad’s late night second-guessing, unless the angst-ridden “if only…” is replaced by “…if it had not been the Lord who was on my side…” All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord…. (Romans 8:28), even the self-inflicted hard knocks. My 20/20 hindsight has clarified God’s truth. I’m still striving to measure up to Dad’s humility, motivated by another truth: “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

See you in church.

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