Football and Faith (R.I.P. Pap)
My Grandfather (aka Pap) was the man… He was so many things to so many people.
He could fix ANYTHING!
He could build ANYTHING!
The first time I realized this was when my mom had this idea to build an addition onto our house above the garage. She pitched the idea to my Dad and I remember him saying it couldn’t be done. Something about the way the garage was built and yada yada whatever… I’m an artist I didn’t get those jeans.
Anyway, I thought it was odd that my dad said it couldn’t be done because he could fix/build anything too…
The next day, my mom brought up this idea to Pap.
Side note: Subtle lesson within the lesson here is that women in our family will ask people until they get the answer they want…
Pap quickly responded by saying , “oh yeah we can make that happen yada yada more talk that was over my head.”
This confirmation from him was followed by a facepalm by my Dad because the truth was he knew it could be done, but he didn’t feel like doing it…
A few months later, we had this freakin’ awesome game room addition on top of our garage.
A few years later… it became Paps apartment.
I’m starting to think pap may have had that planned out from the get go and that’s why he was so into the project from the start. 🤔
When I think of Pap personally, I think of two things. Our bond that we had over the game of football and the faith that we shared. Most kids hear about Jesus for the first time in church or Sunday school, but for me it was different. I heard about this Jesus fella for the first time while watching a Steeler game with Pap. Apparently Jesus Christ actually played for them and he wasn’t very good because pap never seemed excited when he was in the game. He’d say things like “JESUS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” or his personal favorite “JEEESSSSUS KEEEYYYRIISSTT ALMIGHTYYYY”
God Dammit wasn’t a very good player either. I’m not sure how these guys stayed on the team so long. But Mike Tomlin still has a job, so I guess it is a theme that they let guys stay with the organization past their prime.
All jokes aside, Pap was a very great example for me when it came to my faith in God.
To watch this man go through some of the pain he went through and come out on the other side with love in his heart was so encouraging to me.
Pap showed me what it looked like to trust.
To trust that things will get better.
To trust in a better tomorrow.
To trust in a God that was bigger than our issues.
Football and Faith
Two things that on the surface are very different
But similar in one way.
There is an end goal in each of these
In football you play for the Superbowl
Nothing matters but winning the Super Bowl
You drop some passed along the way
You lose teammates along the way
You lose games along the way
But no matter what, you keep the goal of the Superbowl in your sights.
If you ask any player what they are playing for their answer should be the SUPERBOWL
Before a snap is taken they know their goal
When it comes to our faith in Jesus, our end goal is Heaven. Or it should be at least…
Nothing matters along the way, as long as you get there.
Let me ask you this about your faith…
Do you have an end goal?
Have you identified what you’re trying to reach?
Is heaven your goal?
If not, you may just be playing catch. Because just because you own a football doesn’t mean you go to the Superbowl and just because you live a life doesn’t mean you are striving for all that God has for you. Heres is the difference… Nobody has ever made it to the Superbowl unless that was a goal they set and unless they did everything necessary to work and earn their way to the big game. The good news is that people make it to heaven all the time not because of the work they did, but because of the sacrifice God made for us. You see we don’t deserve it. We couldn’t earn it. God just asks us for Heaven to be our goal and for us to keep our trust in Him. He took care of the logistics of the deal 2000 plus years ago when his Son died for us.
Why am I telling you this?
About 2 weeks ago, I was talking to Pap and he asked me to do the eulogy at his funeral and it was a very surreal moment for me.
It was the first time I had ever had a conversation with someone who was planning their own funeral
I’m sure it happens all the time, but for me it was a first.
He was so confident and there wasn’t even a tear shed.
He simply asked and I didn’t know how to respond so I kind of joked about it…
The difference was that he had fully accepted what was happening
He had set his goal a long time ago.
He knew heaven was his superbowl.
He had played all the games on the schedule. Won some lost some.
He got knocked down and got back up every time.
He trusted that God had a place waiting for him.
He was ready for the big game.
Then it hit me that I needed to accept this as well.
The problem is that It’s not easy to accept that someone else is going to the Superbowl and they aren’t taking you with them.
It stirs up all kinds of weird emotions, thoughts, and questions.
Some of them towards loved ones, some toward ourselves, and even some directed toward God.
I wish I could stand here and tell you why, but the truth is that I don’t have answers for why things happen and the timing in which they do…
And trust me, I’ve been seeking those answers since Sept. 13, 2015 when I lost my Dad to cancer.
Something I have realized though, is that I’m glad I don’t know the plan God has.
Whether you find yourself leaning toward trusting or doubting his plan, which I’ve found myself on both ends of this over the years… one thing that is true is that Heaven is more than any human could fathom.
Take a moment…
Imagine what heaven would look like for you.
The sights, the smells, the feelings…
The truth is that it’s more than what you could imagine.
Whatever you envisioned, it is smaller than what God has waiting for you.
It sometimes seems like there is no end in sight for our pain and suffering now
As long as we are living this life, we will endure some hardships and loss.
The good news is that this life is temporary.
Someday when we are joined with our loved ones in Heaven, there will be NO MORE PAIN
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
All we have to do is lean INTO our faith in tough times not AWAY from it.
Lean INTO it so that someday when it is our turn to go home we can accept it like Pap did.
With peace in our hearts.
Knowing that where we are going is permanent and there will NEVER have an ounce of sickness or sorrow around us ever again. We can’t wrap our minds around it because no human has ever seen it.
Think about it.
Our minds are of this world.
God is not of this world.
We aren’t supposed to understand it until we are no longer of this world.
So I don’t know where you find yourself today.
But if you aren’t sure about what is next.
Or unsure about how to move forward after losing someone or something.
Maybe it just starts by identifying your superbowl.
It helps put all the losses and injuries during the season into perspective knowing you’re still alive.
Maybe you feel like you’re too far removed from God and that it would take too much work…
Maybe your first step is just knowing that your invitation to Heaven was stamped and approved already and all you have to do is claim it like Pap did.
Before I wrap this up I want to leave you with this passage from Romans 8
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?
Thats enough for me but He keeps on going….
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
This passage reminds me that nothing I could do would separate me from seeing Pap again someday as long as I keep my faith in God and what Jesus did for me. It reminds me that no matter how far I run, God pursues me.
We get a picture that the farther we run the bigger the gap but that isn’t the case.
He has been closing the gap the whole time.
We just need to turn around. He’s right there...
Thank you for all the lessons you taught us
Thank you for all the laughter you shared with us
Thank you for all the money you lost at the casino trying to “double our money” for us 😂
And most of all to all thank you for the LOVE you gave us that will continue to live on in our hearts every single day.
We love you more than you could ever know.