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By Norris Burkes Jan 3 2020

By the time you read this, I’ll be home from New Orleans where – hopefully – I’ve watched my alma mater, Baylor University, beat the stuffing out of the Georgia Bulldogs at the New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl game. 

But now that the season is over, I have a New Year’s confession: I don’t really understand football. In fact, I failed my 2019 New Year’s resolution in which I promised I’d learn more about the rules and strategy of football.

Not a life-changing resolution, but I made it because I love the game and I wanted to be conversant with my friends.

It’s a hard thing for a man of my age to admit, but I know almost nothing about football. When guys circle around after church to talk play-off chances, I nod and mumble. Usually, I can’t even recall the standing of my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers.

Why would a learned and manly man (also modest) such as myself know so little about this testosterone-filled game? I suppose I could blame elementary school for my shortsighted ignorance.

During a crucial time of my education, between third and fourth grade, I transferred from Balboa Elementary to Alvarado Elementary. Balboa taught football in fourth grade while Alvarado had already taught football to the third graders.

As a result, I was trapped in an educational gap, arriving at my new school completely ignorant of football. You’ve heard of “No Child Left Behind.” Well, I was left behind and quickly labeled as a pigskin-illiterate fourth-grader.

I have learned a few things in the fifty-plus years since. For instance, I know each team gets four chances, called “downs,” to advance the football 10 yards across a 100-yard field toward their goal line. If they are successful, they get four more, etc. Until eventually, they attempt to score a touchdown.

Since making my 2019 well-meaning resolution however, I have yet to learn more significant details. I don’t know what a play-action pass is. I don’t know the difference between a fullback and a halfback. I still find the rules a bit confusing, and no one has been able to successfully explain why one touchdown should equal six whole points. 

But here’s what I absolutely know for sure about football: I know that I love to watch it. I love to see the aerobatic catches of the receivers and the acrobatic gyrations of ball carriers as they dance through a tough defense.

And despite my ignorance, my love for football keeps me watching season after season.

Because love doesn’t need details. If you love someone, you needn’t have a detailed schematic of his life. If you love ice cream, you don’t need the recipe. You simply know what you love.

I guess that’s what is so amazing about the love of God. For you see, God does have a schematic of our lives. He knows the details. He made the recipe. He knows the rules. He knows the players.

Most especially, he knows our important stats. He knows how many resolutions we’ve failed to complete. He knows how many of his passes we’ve missed. He knows how many times we’ve fumbled the ball.

He knows all of this and yet he still loves us.

So this year, as you review your stats and accomplishments, take it easy on yourself. You’ve had some failures, you’ve had some dropped balls, but God knows that. He’s still at work in your life. He still loves you.

As for football, I’m going to try and learn a little bit more this year — even though it might involve calling my friends to ask what night “Monday Night Football” comes on.


Contact Chaplain Norris at or 10566 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715.