Almost everything I have learned in life has been through the innocent eyes of my children. The rest has been through experiencing tough life lessons, reading the Bible…and watching Football.
There is no experience more exhilarating as a mom than watching your sons play high school sports. The mascot is painted on my cheek, photo button pinned to the corner of my replica jersey, and holding an “I Love #61” glitter painted sign, I enter the stadium. It’s a crisp, clear and cool Fall night and I instantly feel the buzz of excitement in the air from a huge crowd. It’s the big game against our across town rivals and the atmosphere is electric! My heart beats triple time, my skin tingles and my heart swells with pride knowing how hard he has worked to get to this night. I always have a hard lump in my throat at the first notes of the Star Spangled banner; then I see him burst onto the field and under the glare of Friday Night Lights, he takes my breath. He is big and strong; he is beautiful and has a heart of pure gold. I adore him.
After kickoff, the brutal battle for victory and a year’s worth of bragging rights ensues. These young men lay everything they have on the line of scrimmage, blood, sweat and tears. As time winds down and halftime approaches, my husband and I head down to the fence where the team exits to the locker room. I love to see the twinkle of determination in the eyes of each player as they pass and I love giving each of them a high five of encouragement. As our son approaches, my smile could be no bigger than at this very moment and he gets the biggest high five of all. As he passes and I lower my hand, I realize he has left me a precious gift. I now hold in my hand the battered, torn tape that had been on his wrists during that half.
On this tape he had written two words: Trench Work.
I have thought for many months now about those words. I look back on that night fondly because once again I learned a valuable lesson not in the words alone but rather what they meant to him. A trench is a deep, long and narrow ditch with steep sides and the work performed there is anything but easy. He claimed victory that night because he and his teammates worked in the trenches for the full four quarters. They were prepared in advance, they believed in themselves and each other, they battled on the field, and they emerged victorious as a result.
I believe that is what the Lord requires of all of us- Trench Work. We trudge through life with our heads down, defeated; saved just enough to get us into Heaven, but not enough to walk through this life in victory and freedom. There is a distinct and overwhelming difference.
I want you to know the difference today, as I have learned it. My son taught me through the game of football what trench work meant to him. Now I want to share with you what I believe it means to our God. If Jesus died for us, is honoring Him by living our entire lives in victory too much to ask? Not if you’re willing to work in the trenches for a bit. Here’s the game plan:
Forgiveness. Walking in freedom and victory means you must be quick to forgive. The first and most powerful act of forgiveness is releasing your very own heart from any guilt and condemnation of sins of the past that you can never take back. The past is just that- passed. Do not let it hold your future captive. As for forgiving others, “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6: 14-15). What more is there to say about that? Forgiveness is not for the “others”, rather for you to feel the freedom of knowing what the Bible says about the matter and walking in obedience to the Lord. Forgive and be forgiven.
Obedience. The Word of God is our owner’s manual. Everything we need to know is written in those powerful words. The trials we suffer in this life are a direct result of our disobedience to His Word. The Lord uses it to speak truth into our lives; to guide us onto His divine path of blessings and to teach us how to care for his people. Therefore we must KNOW it. Read it, study it and DO IT. Find a translation you can comprehend if you struggle in that area. The Word of God is alive. It will reveal itself to you if only you will be obedient to seek Him. It is not enough to say you “know” Him, and not know His word. Jesus answered and said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my Word; and My father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. He who does not love me does not keep my word; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)
Service. We must be “doers” of His Word. James 1:22-25 tells us simply, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” Serve others, thinking of each as better than yourself.
Post Game recap:
Forgiveness is powerful and cleanses our hearts to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Obedience in studying His Word helps us channel our spiritual gifts and discover his will and purpose for our lives.
Service to others leads us to carry out the central theme of the entire Bible: LOVE. God’s love for us is infallible, unquenchable, and unconditional. We get incredibly close to the heart of God when we love each other in this same way.
It seems simple. But you and I both know it is hard work. It is trench work.
As a result of working in the trenches, we lay up heavenly crowns.
In my heart, that is greater than even the most electrifying touchdown.