Well, I don’t know about you, but I sure have football brain these days. Will we be able to beat the 49ers? Is Russell Wilson going to get out of his slump? Is he even in a slump or is it just the conservative play calling of the offensive coordinator and Pete Carroll? Will the 12th man make the difference? Will Percy Harvin? Ok, I know, stop listening to sports radio….
As I have been worrying about the game on Sunday, I thought about the fact that I grew up a Minnesota Vikings fan, and because of that, I think I just expect to be disappointed. I mean four Superbowls and not one win??!! I have a seminary friend who has been a pastor in Wisconsin his whole career, but he grew up in Minnesota. His son is now a Green Bay fan, and he told me that the biggest difference between Packer and Vikings fans is that Packer fans always think they have a chance. Vikings fans expect the worst—and maybe Seahawks fans, never having won a Superbowl either, can relate.
Since I am a pastor, and I probably should not be so obsessed about football [ha], I started thinking about my faith and wondering if I ever think about God like I think about the Seahawks and the Vikings…What do I expect from God? Do I expect the best? Do I think God can do what I hope? Where and in whom do I place my hope?
I can be timid in my prayers. When I am praying for someone with cancer, and it doesn’t look like there is a cure, I find that I pray for healing in a more generic sense, or for peace. Peace and spiritual healing are amazing things, but is that a way in which I have been conditioned not to set my hopes too high?
This feels a little dangerous. I am not saying that one should expect to get everything you ask for from God. Prayers are often answered in ways we would not have thought to ask or to expect. But what if we prayed and decided, do you know what? I’m just going to say exactly what is on my heart. I’m going to ask for the moon!
A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with incurable cancer. When I prayed with her, I asked her what she is praying for these days. She told me, that Jesus taught us to pray thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. On EARTH as it is in heaven, she said, so I’m asking for it all. I’m asking for full healing.
I don’t know what will happen with her. I do believe in miracles. But even more importantly, I believe that we have a God who wants us to have hope. To feel like there is nothing we can’t talk to God about or ask God to give us. God wants us to expect the best, Packer fans do. But it might not happen. The Packers got beat—they haven’t been to the Superbowl in years. But they still have hope. Each season is a new season.
When I used to ask my parents for things as a kid, if I didn’t get what I asked for, it did not make me love them any less—or have any less faith in them. But I did keep going to them with what I needed. Because I knew that there was no one who loved me more. No one who had my best interests at heart more. And so I could ask for what I wanted. And I could weather not getting it. It is the same with God.
Back to football…Now I know in my brain that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter who wins these football games—they are games after all. But in faith, even more than in football, I think that I would rather be a person who expects the best–who is not afraid to hope, instead of someone who expects to be disappointed. And I know that God will give me the strength through the Spirit and the community of faith, to weather any disappointments. Will you join me in this hope?