In late afternoon on a day of increasing cloudiness, Randa and I sit at a middle school football game. A few degrees cooler would give this eastern wind a bit of an edge but the temperature holds to around sixty degrees. Beyond the green of the field and the faint strips of white, a combine winds its way around a large soybean field. I am sure that the sounds of cheering do not penetrate the shell of the harvester though the sound of its engine does occasionally carry across the field. A thick cloud of dust spews out the thresher, drifts away slowly.
Our oldest grandson is playing in his third or fourth game. At its start, it looks like he and his friends will endure another lopsided defeat. The visiting team scores on the second play of the game and then again soon afterwards. Being on the offense on an under-sized team leaves Hunter standing on the sidelines for much of the game.
In the fourth quarter, though, things turn a bit. His team scores, the defense forces a punt and then the offense scores again. They hold the lead briefly, then the other team sustains a drive and takes the lead back. Getting pretty good field position, Hunter’s team scores on their third play to take the lead again. On the ensuing kickoff, the visitors fumble and the home team recovers and holds on as time runs out.
Players and parents cheer enthusiastically, congratulate one another. Randa takes a picture of Hunter standing in front of the bleachers, a wide grin on his face. As Eddie “Nuke” LaLoush comments in the movie, Bull Durham, “I like winning, man. It’s like, more fun than losing.”
It is fun, though athletically I’ve had little actual experience with that perspective. I did win a shuffleboard tournament at summer camp one year but that hardly scales out with the state playoffs. In my years of basketball, I never played on a winning team. As a Chiefs fan, I rarely get the opportunity to celebrate victory even vicariously.
But in the ultimate face-off, I daily experience the victory that Jesus has gained for me. My guilt is gone, my sins forgiven, my soul redeemed. Even if there are sometimes bits of turf smashed into my facemask and I’m peering out at the world through the earhole of my helmet, I still overcome by the blood of the Lamb.
It’s like, more fun than losing… my soul.