"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."
Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years Genesis 5:22
As I was reading Genesis recently - remember that idea of reading the Bible right through in a year - that verse jumped out at me. Now don't worry, I don't expect to live 300 years!
What struck me was that faithfulness has to be for the long haul. I recently met two people I had studied with more than 30 years ago. We had not seen each other since. It was a great joy to discover that we were all going on in the faith. The Bible is full of stories of people who started faithfully but ended their lives in idolatry.
In Beijing I spoke to Mara Yamuchi after she had finished sixth in the marathon. I asked her what had been her race plan. She said that in the 2007 World Championship she had started too quickly and run out of steam at the end. In Beijing her strategy was not to do anything fancy but to be there at the end. She finished sixth.
The world of sport is full of great prospects, the next superstar. Many of them sadly are one season wonders. I mentioned Ryan Giggs a few weeks ago. He is now in his 19th season with Manchester United. Faithful service or what?
In faith and in sport walking faithfully with God is the key. We have signed a forever contract with God. Let it be said of us that we walked faithfully with God to the end. As we see our sport as part of our Christian life, let us faithfully use our talents for his glory to the end. We all love the team-mate who is still showing, making runs and wanting the ball in the last minute of the game.
I have used this quote before - what AM Hunter wrote of the second coming - but it is helpful in this context too. "The question is not, 'when is the final whistle?' but 'am I in the right position to receive the ball?'" Let us strive to be faithfully in the right position waiting for the ball when our life ends.