I grew up in a small town—actually on the outskirts of a small town. By outskirts I mean down Highway 58 which most people refer to as “old 82” (Highway 82 is now a bypass). I was always a little envious of friends who lived in a subdivision. I can’t really remember why. It wouldn’t have suited the wanderlust that led me into the woods around my house. Sometimes I’d end up miles from home resting by a tree, thinking. Certainly wouldn’t let my kids do that now.
My daddy was happy when the bypass was complete and the traffic decreased. Not me. I missed it, really. Once when a friend spent the night at my house she asked how I could sleep with all that noise. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I think it was the first time I really heard the hum of the tires on that worn out blacktop. For most people traveling northwest from Montgomery, Highway 82 was and still is a main thoroughfare to Tuscaloosa. And we all know what’s in Tuscaloosa. Everything. That’s how I looked at it back then. Within 30 miles there was fast food, a mall, a movie theater, and The Bear.
The local traffic was always humming but Saturdays in the fall brought a special treat with worshipers headed to their shrine. I was a little envious of that, too. I didn’t attend a college football game until after I was married but I shared in the excitement. They dressed in their team colors from head to toe, traveled in lively groups of friends and family, and seemed like the happiest people in the world on that day.
But I was an Auburn fan. Back in the day, Alabama held the bragging rights. When I asked my daddy why we were Auburn fans (as if it were some unchangeable genetic predisposition) he said, “I cheer for the underdog.” So I did.
I’m miles from home now.
And I’m not an Auburn fan anymore. I married an Alabama fan; we had children who grew up to be Alabama fans; and while there are many divided households in this state that doesn’t work for me. The drama was real, people. I tried hanging on to my team for a while but I hate conflict, even the kind involving a silly football game. So I baled. Became a traitor. After three decades of being an Auburn fan I officially announced that I was an Alabama fan. ***Gasp.*** I wear the team colors and plan football Saturdays around T.V. game times. To my father my defection was one of The Worst Moments in History. He threatened to write me out of the will.
He still loves me and I buy him Auburn stuff for his birthday. But I need peace in my life with my people and it came to the point that hanging on just wasn’t worth it. My allegiance to the past, to a team, to a crowd, to a way of life all became like the noisy hum of wheels on a blacktop highway. Once I heard it I couldn’t not hear it. The price for peace seemed high as I quietly considered my defection and my pride blindsided me a few times. In the end the need for peace won.
Football in the south is serious business. If you move to Alabama the first question you’ll have to answer is not “Where you from?” but “Who you for?” Neutrality is not an option.
That’s how it is with obedience except there’s much more at stake than bragging rights. We have our allegiances to habits, people, and ideas, many of which are a constant source of conflict in our lives. But we’ve grown so accustomed to the noise that we don’t hear it anymore. It takes fresh eyes and ears and hearts to help us see and hear. And there’s the rub. It almost feels easier not knowing, not hearing, and not feeling the conflict.
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to walking in obedience with our Father God. He is the winning team. This isn’t just about cheering and wearing the team colors but being in the game ourselves and winning at life. Still the price for peace seems high. A lot is at stake. Usually our pride plays first string or we claim some sort of spew-worthy-lukewarm neutrality. The heart is deceitful and will unquestionably choose the losing, destructive ways of disobedience rather than submit to God’s Plan. The result of our choice:
We get tackled and eat dirt rather than run the gap made for us by grace and forgiveness.Tweet this
The peace and joy of the Lord—being in an obedient right relationship with Him— is worth it. Once we’ve made the decision we wonder why it took so long.
You may not have an allegiance to a team or ever consider switching sides. No problem.
But in life, there is only one plan, one play, and one winning way. God is pursuing you, recruiting you, inviting you to be a part of all He has to offer. It’s the chance of a lifetime. One that’s too good to refuse.
Who are YOU for?