It’s the morning after the Iron Bowl. Last night, I watched my beloved Auburn Tigers defeat our hated rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide in a thrilling, down-to-the-very-last-second, come-from-behind victory. After the game, I read several recaps, and watched several highlight videos until late into the night. I celebrated. I’m still celebrating. I will be celebrating for a very, very long time.
But then, I started reading a few things which bugged me. People were calling it a “miracle”. People were thanking God for granting Auburn this victory. People were praising God and shouting to the heavens that their prayers had been answered.
I doubt the Alabama players, coaches, and fans felt the same way.
In fact, I doubt that the losers in any athletic contest feel as though their prayers have been answered.
In every game, there are thousands of people praying for opposite outcomes. For every prayer of a long pass completion, there is an equal and opposite prayer for an interception. For every prayer of a long run, there is a prayer for a quick tackle. For every prayer for a good field goal, there is a prayer for a missed field goal. Everybody on both sides of the ball is praying for each play to go their way, and of course, everyone is praying for victory.
Do you really think that God is sitting up in Heaven, counting up those prayers, and affecting the outcome?
“Well, let’s see…right now, 4,734,329 people are praying for him to make this field goal, but only 4,734, 328 people are praying for him to miss it, so this one is going straight down the middle, kid.”
God doesn’t care about who wins football games. He doesn’t care if touchdowns are made, or if tackles are made. He doesn’t care if field goals are made, or if field goals are missed. God doesn’t care if balls are tipped into the air or swatted to the ground. He doesn’t care if passes are caught or dropped.
God cares that athletic talent (or any talent) is developed to it’s fullest potential. God cares that the athletes try their very best, and push themselves to the limits of their ability. God cares that the coaches use their brains to the fullest of their potential to call up the best plays and motivate their players to the best of their ability. God cares that the game is played fairly, with good sportsmanship from everyone involved. God cares that the referees do a good job of ensuring that same fairness and sportsman-like conduct. God cares that the fans have a good time, and that everyone is entertained. God cares that when our teams win, we do so with class, and that when our teams lose, we do so with dignity. Last, but certainly not least, God absolutely cares when players get hurt.
But God doesn’t score touchdowns. He doesn’t make kicks fall short, passes go incomplete, or runs get stopped. God doesn’t affect the outcome of the game in any way, shape, or form. He doesn’t do that, because that would mean that he intentionally causes pain in the people who don’t get what they prayed for. God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t hurt people. To manipulate the outcome in any sporting event would go against everything that a loving, kind, benevolent creator represents. It would be a loss of free will and a slap in the face to human potential and achievement. God doesn’t do that.
As it is in football, so it is in life.
PS: WAR EAGLE, BABY!!!!!