Oh My! They Shot the Cannon…and the Bulldog Fainted!

Back when I was student there, I was attending a football game at Gardner -Webb College . It was a beautiful fall day for the game. Our team “The Running Bulldogs” entered the stadium, with the cheerleaders and our mascot, a real bulldog leading the way. At that precise moment, they fired a cannon….and a loud ”BOOM” rocked the stadium…and our beloved mascot passed out..He quit running and this started a chain reaction, stopping the parade of cheerleaders and football players and coaches behind him. It was quite a traffic jam on the field. Everyone immediately stopped to see if the bulldog was okay. Even the fans in the stands, stood to see how he was doing, everything got real quiet. In a few moments, the mascot awoke from this trauma and stood up and began to shake it off as if he had just had a bath.We all stood up and cheered for the bulldog! Fortunately, he recovered and stayed for the game, taking his regular spot on the sidelines.Some things can happen to us as well, things that can knock us off our feet. We need to be like that bulldog, recover and stay in the game. The bulldog couldn’t control what happened to him …but he could control his response to the situation. Sometimes we just need to shake it off (sounds like Taylor Swift’s hit song, doesn’t it). He adapted and adjusted to the situation even though he really could not understand it all.

I don’t know what unexpected crisis or disappointment has entered your life, maybe it is a health issue you or someone close to you is facing or some other discouraging situation, but I do know…it is very important how you and I respond to it. It really is unrealistic to think we can control everything around us all the time. Charles Swindoll has said it best…”Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. Refuse to let your situation determine your attitude.”

It might not be easy, and it may take some time and some help from others but we can recover as the Lord guides us and helps us through the shock and the hurt. As I often like to say…Life isn’t always easy and isn’t always fair, but God still loves you and God still cares! That can mean a lot when fear and discouragement surrounds you and I. We aren’t meant to handle everything in our own strength. God really wants to be there for us if we would simply turn to Him and trust Him. ..”You can throw the full weight of your anxieties upon Him, for YOU are HIS personal concern.” -1Peter 5:7 (Phillips Translation) 

 

You Can’t Always Be the Best…but You Can Do Your Best

Back in the day, I enjoyed running and competing in races. I ran in races in Texas, North and South Carolina, but that was before my body decided to join the Triple A Club ( Asthma, Allergies, Arthritis). At one of my very favorite races, I had just ran my best time ever and even got 3rd place in my age group. I was so happy and thankful until after I crossed the finish line. I was greeted by an “Out-Of-Shape-Never-Ran-A-Mile” friend of mine who said to me…”I’d be ashamed if I was was you, letting two people finish ahead of you!”In our “Winner takes All” cultural mindset, it inevitably sets us for disappointments and failure. The “all or nothing attitude” can keep us from experiencing real joy and  peace in our lives. That toxic attitude is unrealistic and can lead us to be pessimistic and negative about ourselves and everybody and everything around us. There is nothing wrong with wanting and striving to be the best, that should be a goal but not a consistent criteria for everything we do. It is impossible to be the best in everything. There needs to be a balance between the ideal we wish for and the reality of our human limitations.

Tommy Emmanuel, who many people consider to be the best guitarist in the world said this: “People ask me how does it feel to live up to the ‘BEST’ this, or the ‘GREATEST’ that…I never think about stuff like that because I don’t want the burden of being the greatest anything. So I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m the best or worse. What anyone thinks of me is none of my business; my business is to turn up and do my best and that…sets me free. When I do that, hopefully you have a good time.” 

REAL Success in life isn’t always “Being the Best” but it is simply “Doing our Best.” Trying to be the best all the time will put unrealistic pressure and expectations on yourself and can actually drain the emotional energy from you and then prevent you from being able to do your best.

By the way, my actual response to that comment after the race that day was I still felt good about what I accomplished there.I even laughed at the comment when it was made, because I knew most of all… that I did my best and that was good enough for me. Don’t be obsessed with being the best in everything you do today, just stay focused on doing your best…one thing at a time.

I have also found it extremely helpful to look to Jesus and not everybody else. May you and I focus on Him today as we run our race today…

“We must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete.” -Hebrews 12: 1-2 (CEV) 

 

Flying Chicken Wings and Other Funny Things…at Football Games

I don’t know why, but some of the craziest things happen to me ( I think of it as a unique gift, that the Lord allows me to experience so I can laugh at myself and bring a smile to others). I have always enjoyed the game of football. I played football in L.A. (not Los Angeles, but Lower Asheville in North Carolina). I was on the very first Hendersonville Jr. High Football Team. We were a work in progress. Our biggest game of that season was at the football Stadium in Asheville. We were driving for a touch down, and I was an lineman, my job was to block. As I went forward, my shoe got stuck in a water drain and I couldn’t move much less block. My friend Charlie had the football and tried to run behind me,the other team however tried to run through me to tackle Charlie. I was stuck in the middle and nowhere to go, but somehow Charlie ran around me and scored the touchdown. After the score the referee tried to get my shoe out of the drain but it wouldn’t move. The referee told me to leave the field and get it later. As I came limping off the field, the people in the stands thought I was injured. Even the cheerleaders starting cheering for me..”Jerry, Jerry, He’s our man, if he can’t do it , nobody can…” Even my coaches were surprised ( although I don’t think that was the only emotion that felt about me at the time) especially when I told them what had actually happened to me. After the game, I went back out of the field and with some help, retrieved my shoe. Many years later while attending a college football game, I took a break to get some chicken wings. After visiting the concession stand, I started back with my basket of chicken into the stadium. At the same time, there were a lot of people rushing toward the field to see an exciting interception and touchdown. In the chaos of the moment, some excited  fan shoved my arm up (I guess to signal touchdown like a referee). Well, you guessed it…My chicken wings went airborne up into the seats above me..never to be seen  again! I went back and got more chicken wings and took them back to share with my friend Morris. Morris asked me what took me so long? I told him that the first order of chicken wings had flown away…

I went to another football game trying to find an extra ticket. At that particular stadium, it was illegal to “scalp” tickets, I saw this  man was trying to sell the tickets for a much higher price. I walked up and told him it was illegal to do so. He ask me what he should do and I told him, he could sale the ticket to me at face value, which he did. As I walked away, another man who had evidently been trying to buy the same ticket unsuccessfully, approached me asked me…”Who are you? You aren’t from  around here are you? Are you a hustler from Atlanta???”… I had a similar experience a few years later at the same stadium but I really can’t repeat what was said afterwards.

I always wanted to attend a Bowl Game. Some friends and I traveled to Atlanta to see the Tennessee Vols play Maryland in the Peach Bowl. We parked on the other side of a park near the stadium. After the game was over, we reentered the park to get to our car. As we got the the other side of the park we discovered the gate was locked, so we decided to save some time and just climb the fence. I was the last one over and got stuck on top of the fence. My friends were laughing so hard that couldn’t help me. I suspect they had never seen a bear or a big man stuck on top of a fence before that night! And all I could do was laugh too… but eventually I flopped on over the fence but my landing didn’t go very gracefully. 

As you can tell, I need extra grace wherever I go…even football games.