With the opening of NFL training camps just days away, preparation for the preseason schedule, as well as the 2013 NFL season itself, is about to fully get underway. And with the selection of offensive tackles (Eric Fisher by the Chiefs and Luke Joeckel by the Jaguars) with the first two picks in April’s NFL draft, the spotlight may be turned on the offensive line like never before. This will be interesting, because offensive line play is often overlooked until a lineman gets flagged for holding at a critical time in a game. Much less attention is paid to what it takes to succeed and perform at a high level in this surprisingly technical position.
In reality, solid line play is basically about really big men doing the little things correctly over and over again. An NFL left tackle is successful primarily because of good footwork, strong hands, and his ability to anticipate the rush and shift his weight to protect against that rush. Over these weeks of summer camp in the heat and humidity, the scene will be replayed hundreds of times as offensive linemen, through the sheer volume of repetition, are drilled in doing the little things right over and over and over again.
In this simple preparation, I think we can see a parallel to the life of faith. Living in relationship with Christ is very often about learning and growing in faithfulness in the little things. As has often been said, walking with Christ is about the journey, not just the destination. This, I think, has less to do with taking dramatic leaps of faith and more to do with every day, step by step, moving in the right direction for the right purpose. With that in mind, consider a very familiar verse of Scripture: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Here the psalmist is comparing the Scriptures to a guiding light—but it isn’t a searchlight, a high-beam headlight, or a lighthouse on a coastline. The comparison is to the ancient olive oil lamp, which consisted of a small clay bowl filled with olive oil and a floating wick. The point? This lamp didn’t put out light for the next 100 miles, 100 yards, or even 100 feet. It gave enough light for the next couple of steps. That was it. Trusting in the light we receive from the wisdom of the Bible, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), faithfully taking one step at a time into the future. As a result, this word-picture gives added meaning to the proverb’s promise: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
“He shall direct your paths.” In these small steps, day by day, we learn to follow God’s leading—for everyday faithfulness is learned and experienced in the small things of life. It’s about the little things, over and over again.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain