Lessons From A Football Game

Years may wrinkle the skin, but giving up on enthusiasm will wrinkle the soul. - Samuel Ullman

Yesterday, I got the chance to fulfill a dream with my family when we went to see our beloved Denver Broncos take on the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas.  

I'm the only member of our family to see the Broncos live, and that was a bunch of years ago.  Needless to say, our whole crew was pretty fired up to get all decked out in our Broncos gear and cheer on our team, come what may. 

In what was a complete surprise, we couldn't have anticipated the sheer number of Broncos fans who also showed up for the game.  Roughly 40% of the people in attendance were also decked out in their Broncos gear, and ready to rumble.  

Long story short... the Broncos won big.  The score was 30-0 late in the 4th quarter, but the Broncos defense finally allowed two Cowboys scores in what is commonly known as "garbage time."  

It was a great day for my boys, too.  They all saw their first-ever pro football game.  It was an exciting environment, we were all together, and our team dominated the day.  It was awesome to see them so happy. 

But the highlight of the day was the kindness we received from an older guy, who offered up an extra seat so we could all sit together.  You see, when we bought the tickets, we couldn't get all five seats in a row, so we had one a couple of rows away. 

This man who had been a season ticket holder since 1967, cheerfully moved over and gave us his extra seat, and then chatted us up for most of the game.  He shared stories, offered advice, and was super gracious in defeat. 

His kindness really affected me.  I have been thinking about it ever since.  This was a guy who loved his Dallas Cowboys.  His enthusiasm and joy for watching his team year after year had never dimmed. 

And this joy also enabled him to extend the hand of friendship and hospitality to strangers who were wearing the colors of the opposing team.  

As I sat there pondering all of this, I had to ask myself the question: "Would I have done the same thing?"  I would like to think I would, but I don't know for sure.  I mean, I would now because I learned a valuable lesson on joy and kindness, but I'm not sure I would have before this.  

I bet I'm not alone in this.  I mean, how many of us give up on our joy, lose our enthusiasm, and end up kind of collapsing on ourselves, focused on our troubles, our tribe, and our desire for triumph?  

We become unable to truly see others and to also see how we can show grace and peace to them.  And when we do this, we retreat, we become self-serving and self-obsessed.  We lose our ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. 

This brings me to this line from the quote at the top of this devo...  "giving up on enthusiasm may wrinkle the soul." 

What that older guy on Sunday taught me was that even though his face was weathered and his body a bit stiff and stooped, his soul was nimble, flexible, and filled with the kind of joy that turns the world in the right direction. 

And the kindness that he showed to our family will have reverberations that will last a lifetime for my kids and for my wife and me as well.  We had a wonderful memory made even more wonderful because someone hadn't given up on joy.  

May we all seek to do the same in our day-to-day journey.  May we seek to hold enthusiasm and joy close, and to know that it's good for our souls.  May we show kindness and offer grace---as we have been shown to do.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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