When my husband was in middle school, he put his name on the season ticket waiting list for the Denver Broncos. Our town was coming off the cleated heels of back-to-back Super Bowl Wins and the waiting list for a few seats at Mile High Stadium was over 10 years long. My husband, in all of his fanatical wisdom knew himself even at that young age. He knew that his passion for his team was even longer than that list and he knew that someday, he would want those tickets. He told me about the waiting list when we were dating. We were talking marriage at this point and this conversation was tantamount to the one that some people have about whether or not they want kids. It was kind of a make or break moment; would I support the inevitable yet glorious day when his name was called and he could claim what he had been dreaming about since adolescence? I figured that would be years down the road (at this point, the estimation was still about ten years) and we would have plenty of money to cover the cost. I was wrong. Our team went through a dry spell for some time and people began to abdicate their stadium thrones. I’ll never forget when Scott got the unexpected call that, after years of waiting, his name was up. It happened much sooner than I had expected but I knew that we would do whatever we needed to do to make this dream a reality for him. Why? Well, because aside from his faith and his family, there’s not much that he’s more passionate about. Let me explain what I mean by passion. My husband can name every man on the 53-Man roster, position, number, and year they were drafted or signed to our team each season. Not only that but he could tell you about any coach or individual in the front office of the organization as well. I could throw out a random year of his life and he could tell you significant details of that season and why the Broncos were or were not successful. He understands the team well enough to know that Peyton Manning is amazing and untouchable but really, the player that deserves the title of “favorite” for him is Ryan Clady, an offensive lineman who’s performance is astounding but only to someone who truly knows the game. Before I lose you ladies, let me just sum things up by saying, he is no band-wagon fan.
Scott with his brothers at a game. They’ll cheer their team on no matter what the weather.
I grew up in Denver just like him. My family is full of Broncos fans and I had always considered myself to be one as well. That was until I met Scott. I saw his passion for the game, for the team and thought that I better catch up. After all, this was my husband’s greatest interest and I had borne him a son. If I didn’t catch on now, I would be left in the dust and soon!
Judah and Scott at Judah’s first game.
So, because passion is contagious and because love is selfless, I began to try and acquire a knowledge and passion for the Broncos equal to my husbands. I started listening to sports talk radio so I could throw talking points out at the dinner table that he would enjoy. Never mind that he has usually heard all of the news that I’m reporting (he has some kind of sixth sense, telepathy thing going on with the NFL), I still try. I sat down with him one night and had him draw diagrams for me so that I could understand the position of each player on the team (can you say romantic?). I’ve decided to overlook the gawdy ties that the Sports Center guys wear so that I can try and understand the league. Thankfully, that channel just repeats the same stories all day long so an amateur like me can learn through repetition. I’ve tried to study what style offense and defense we have (yes there are different styles). I’ve learned what teams are in our division and about their key players. I’ve tried to follow the hires and fires, the free agency acquisitions, the rule changes, and the overall drama of the league. I’ve even learned the names of some of the refs! All because this is my husbands passion and passion is contagious.
Anyone that knows Scott knows how he feels about the Denver Broncos. They want to talk about it with him, get his opinion, and are probably secretly hoping for an invite to one of the games. His passion challenges me and invites me in. I can’t help but think that this is how we should be with our faith. We should be so passionate about it that anyone we know can tell what team we root for. Our passion for our Savior should be distinctive, so unique and extraordinary that it invites others to join in. Scott’s excitement for the Broncos made me want to join the movement. Our lived out faith should do the same thing. On game day, when Scott puts on his bright, bold, orange jersey, it’s like his heart is turned inside out for all to see. He is with the Broncos and he’s not afraid to show it. How we follow Jesus could be the same way. Every day is our game day you see, a chance for us to take the field and gain yards for the Kingdom of God. We can march down the field with our teammates, playing the part we’re meant to. You might be the quarterback, lobbing the word of truth down the field like it’s a football. You might be a part of the line, protecting the line of scrimmage; the ground that has already been gained, from receding in the hearts of the players. Maybe you’re a receiver, the one that catches that truth-ball and runs it in to the end zone, into hearts, with grace and finesse. But you’re not aloud on the field without your jersey on. Unless you take your heart and wear it on your sleeve, unless you put on the bold colors of faith, unless you declare what side you’re on with action and passion, unless you put on your jersey, you’re no good to the team. This week, I challenge to live your faith with passion. Wear it like you would a jersey of your favorite team; with pride. Take it in as a part of your identity and let others see. When you “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27 NIV), you’ll be living a passionate faith. And passion is contagious. It challenges the apathetic and invites those without a cause. This team that we’re a part of should always be growing. So wave those foam fingers high and shout till your voice is gone because we are on the winning side. And that’s something to cheer for.