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This year could be The Year. The year the 49ers win the Super Bowl. The year the Raiders regain their dignity. The year of Brady Quinn.
As the preseason unfolds, football fans are debating the impact of hot trades over grills, across cubicles and in chat rooms. Which incoming rookies and high draft picks will make the team a winner? Who will be a star and who will be a role player? Who’s a team player and who’s a play-maker?
They’re weighing old standings and statistics then casting bold predictions. Anyone could turn any team around. Anything is possible.
There’s something about the advent of autumn that inspires a sense of possibility. Leaves may be dying, but something is being born, too—crisp hope.
It stems from the school cycle that’s deeply ingrained in us. The start of a new year, well-rested minds and revamped wardrobes, blank notebooks and neat handwriting, the signature of good intentions to stay on top of schoolwork this time around.
Christians have the best reason to be hopeful. Our mighty God gives us reason to believe in the possibility of a new season and a blank slate. “Behold,” he says in Rv 21:5, “I make all things new.”
All things—not just the things that already show promise, such as the Patriots. Even the Raiders, who lost 14 games last year, could win 14 games this year. Even if last season was marred by fumbles and interceptions, poor coaching and sloppy playing, this season they could reach the Super Bowl.
We too make mistakes—treating people badly, treating ourselves badly—and we can start over next season.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us,” Psalm 103:12 reassures us. That’s the power of confession—a clean slate. We can be distanced immeasurably from our sins. We can be made new, again and again.
In the process, as we inhale deeply and prepare to begin a new season, we hear others’ expectations. Some are murmured, others shouted. Some are direct, others second-hand. Over the phone. In an
e-mail. At a family party. Everyone has an opinion, it seems.
Young adults, like rookie athletes, are vulnerable to an expectation overdose. We aren’t 100 percent sure of our plans or purpose so we keep our ears open just in case some friend or relative or passerby has a better idea, a piece of wisdom we haven’t conceived in all our praying, thinking and journaling.
Just in case.
The trouble is, those thunderous expectations can muffle the whisper of the Holy Spirit. They can paralyze us with the knowledge that it’s impossible to fulfill every one.
We must slide outside the weight of others’ expectations. We must find that place where we’re alone with God—a bedroom corner, an empty chapel, an open meadow. And we must consider God’s expectations, the only ones that matter.
What does God expect of us? That we love our neighbor and live up to our potential, using and multiplying our talents in a way that glorifies him.
It’s that simple. So go for it: Touchdown Jesus!
(Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)†