By Libbo Crosswhite
We recently celebrated Mary Thomas’ third birthday by taking her to Dallas to see the season opener for the Dallas Cowboys. If you are thinking we tricked our 3-year-old daughter into thinking all she wanted for her birthday was a trip to an NFL game, you would be correct. Our family of four, my in-laws, and my mom all loaded into one car (no, that is not typo—one car) and drove to Dallas to watch our favorite MSU-turned-NFL quarterback in his professional debut.
After I came to terms with the fact that I left my purse and the diaper bag back at home, (no relevance, really—just want to make sure that anyone reading this doesn’t mistake my ability to put words into sentences for me being good at being a functioning adult), we had an absolute blast going to the Cowboys game and showing our support for Dak.
There were lots of tears and screaming (not from any of my children, just me) as we watched him make his dreams come true. It really was like watching a family member out there on the field. And no, we have never met Dak Prescott, even though he did retweet us once, but that doesn’t really change the fact that we love him like our own. For many of us, our collegiate team players are considered family, through the good and the bad, and when they succeed, we feel like a proud parent.
There is a sense of unparalleled community when it comes to football—the tailgating, the college game-day analysis, the heartbreaking losses, and the nail-biting victories. Many of us live for Saturdays spent in The Junction or The Grove with family and friends. If we root for our alma mater, we daydream about the days that our kids will have the chance to experience our college for themselves. We buy them cute college-themed outfits, begin brainwashing early about what teams to root for and which ones not to (guilty), and if we’re honest, we can sometimes become obsessed with the idea of “our team.”
I have had this conversation with friends before; it’s a shame that we don’t have the same passion and commitment to Sunday mornings that we do for Saturday afternoons in the fall. Where’s the Walk of Champions for our pastors before the big sermon on Sundays—with the whole congregation high-fiving him? Where is the community of believers so excited to gather together that they get there early and camp out to share a meal before Sunday’s service?
I get the slight ridiculousness of those questions, but I also wonder what my world would look like if I cared more about my community of believers and showing others the victory found in Christ as I did my community of tailgaters and my team’s victories on the field (which can be few and far between in any given year).
In Revelation, John paints this picture of heaven in which people from all different nations, languages, and backgrounds come together for one purpose—to praise our Creator and King. All that can be heard is praise for the victory that God has granted us over our sin and death. This may sound silly, but when people talk about heaven, one image always immediately pops up in my mind.
MSU’s 2014 season saw the Bulldogs at number one for a few weeks. I distinctly remember the Auburn game; a few minutes left in the fourth, “Don’t Stop Believin’” playing over the loud speaker, cowbells ringing, people saying, “We’re number one!” and for the first time in history, that was an actual fact. We shared a sense of responsibility with those players on the field that we had followed and supported and loved like our own.
Multiply that times infinity and I think that’s what we will find in heaven. The world tells us that believing and following Jesus and knowing that Jesus was crucified and resurrected on our behalf—for OUR sins—so that we will receive eternal life with our creator is not just crazy, but impossible. But how victorious that moment will be when with one voice, on one team, unified in the blood of Christ, we sing to our glorious Creator. When we are face to face with what we have known and believed and hoped for but have never seen with our eyes.
Because of Him, we will finally be victorious, and not just temporarily, but eternally. How can that not fire us up for Sunday mornings and every morning for that matter? I hope and pray that as Clay and I raise our children in a world centered around being the best and being on the winning team, that they will believe and live the victorious life only found in being a follower of Jesus.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake.They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 2 years old and a son, Russell, who is 6 months old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.