I have a New Year’s confession: I’ve failed to keep my 2010 New Year’s resolution in which I promised myself 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.
It’s a hard thing for a man of my age to admit, but I know almost nothing about the game. When guys circle around after church to talk play-off chances, I nod and mumble. Usually, I can’t even recall where my favorite team stands.
Of course, after the firing of 49ers coach Mike Singletary last month, I think I know where “we” stand.
Why would a learned and manly man (and heartfelt modest man) such as myself know so little about this testosterone-filled game? I suppose I could blame my elementary schools for my shortsighted ignorance.
During a crucial time of my education, between third and fourth grades, I transferred from Balboa Elementary to Alvarado Elementary. Balboa was planning to teach football in fourth grade while Alvarado taught football in third grade.
As a result, I fell between the educational gap and arrived 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 pigskin illiterate.
I have learned a few things since fourth grade and the 40 years that followed. For instance, I know each team gets four chances to advance the football 10 yards down a 100-yard field toward their goal. If they are successful in their downs, they get four more, etc, etc. Until eventually, they can score.
Since making my 2010 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 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 best friend to ask him what night “Monday Night Football” comes on.
Burkes is a former civilian hospital chaplain and an Air National Guard chaplain. Write firstname.lastname@example.org or visit thechaplain.net.