[BTW, not that you need to know this to understand what I am sharing, but for those who don't play, fantasy football is a game (usually online) where you get to "pick" real NFL players to be on your virtual Fantasy Football Team. You then get points each week based on how those real NFL players perform in the games they play in real life. So for example, if you have Peyton Manning on your team (QB for Denver Broncos and frequent star of TV commercials) and he throws a pass for a touchdown, your fantasy team gets 6 points. Each week you compete against another player who has their own Fantasy Team with the winner being whosever team gets the most total points that week.]
So I've been playing Fantasy Football for probably over 10 years now, and I'm convinced God is a fan of Fantasy Football. How do I know this you ask? Well, I think God is generally a fan of anything that offers a regular healthy dose of humility. [This is the same reason that I think God is a fan of annual physicals.]
You see, playing Fantasy Football is a near constant reminder of how limited my vision is and how little I know. I don't say this because I'm a perennially fantasy loser. That would make this more about self-pity than humility. No, the reason Fantasy Football is so humbling is because my successes often occur despite myself and my losses are the direct result of something brilliant I thought I did.
Keep in mind there are fantasy football players far more "into it" than I am, but I take it fairly seriously. I subscribe to a couple sports websites offering inside information. I listen to podcasts and read articles by experts offering good strategies and forecasting the best performances in the upcoming week. And then I take all this, factor in what I've seen in previous games, throw in a good dose of "gut feeling," and then set my sure-fire can't lose line-up for the week. Come Sunday I have my laptop (or iPad) by my side as I watch the games anxiously but confident that I'll win my weekly match-up.
And then it happens. Actually one or more things happen. Sometimes one of the players that I took out of my line-up winds up having a high scoring day (which means I don't get his points since I took him out of my line-up). Then sometimes the player I was sure was going to have a career day winds up playing absolutely lousy (again resulting in very few points). And still other times, the player I wound up starting because I had absolutely no choice winds up winning the entire matchup for me because he did have a career day. And of course sometimes times all of these things (and others) happen in the same week. Can you see the frustration....and the humility?
With all my facts and information, with all my insight and insider info, Fantasy Football has taught me over the years that I am pretty incapable of affecting an outcome. Sure sometimes I win...and initially my pride swells and I feel pretty good. But it doesn't take long for me to realize (although sometimes it takes until next week's match-up) that a lot of why I won had nothing to do with me. And on the flip side, when I lose, though initially my pride searches rapidly for excuses as to why I lost (like one of my players got injured or because the defense was playing better than normal or whatever), I eventually realize that if I had made some different decisions (which now seem sort of obvious), I would have won. So the bottom line is that every week I get smacked in the face with a heaping, but healthy dose of humility.
Of course it doesn't take too big a stretch to see that this fun little distraction of Fantasy Football is like a little microcosm for how we live our lives a lot of the time.
On any given day there are a million decisions to be made. We are constantly faced with choices...some big and some small, but all with ramifications. Often we (or at least I) try to make these choices using the "wisdom" of our life experiences, the "expert" information propagated by the gurus, and/or that "gut feeling" we have about what will bring us the most success or the best outcome. Too often the very last thing we do...if we do it at all...is ask God what we should do. Even then, we're often only half-asking (or half-listening) because our minds are already made up or the moment has already passed and we had to act.
When this is how we live, the results of our choices, even if they seem good initially, ultimately hurt us. Our successes allow our pride to puff itself up, dig in a little deeper, and fight even harder next time for figuring stuff out on our own. Our failures often don't do much better because there is always a reason or excuse for why we can't really be responsible for the outcome and how if we had only known X, then we would have made a better choice.
But the fact is...if we are honest...its pretty easy to see that only God can see beyond our choices...only God can see the ramifications of every step and every choice we make. And if we truly care about the consequences of our actions...and if we truly want His best for our lives...then we need to embrace our limitations...embrace our dependence. After all, we are dependent on Him...for every breath we take in fact. And after all, He loves us. The Creator of the universe, the Master of time and space, the Alpha and Omega of Love...loves us. Why not seek Him first whenever we have a choice to make? Seems like an easy decision to me.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes ; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7Now if God will just tell me who to start on my Fantasy Football team this week... :-)