That Championship Season

It was the final game of my son's high school football career. Spotsylvania High's football team had struggled for much of the year, losing three games in the middle of the season, but almost miraculously found themselves hosting the state championship game. Their supporters were dumbfounded at the manner in which they had turned their season around, eking out postseason wins and arriving at the cusp of their second championship in four years. Their opponent, juggernaut Amherst County, had just completed one of the most successful seasons in the history of Virginia high school football. Labeled a "super team," they came to the championship match with a 13-0 record, averaging almost 60 points a game, and allowing only two touchdowns the entire season. One Amherst opponent was so physically overwhelmed that they forfeited to the Lancers at halftime. So sure were the Amherst coaches and parents of victory, they hired a professional videographer to record this final game in their march to football perfection. Fulfilling his contract, the film's producer recorded the first half of the contest with an Amherst victory in mind. The camera remained focused on the Amherst players and coaches - Spotsylvania's players were merely the supporting cast for a drama that was certain to leave them deflated and defeated. On the rain-slickened field, however, things were not going according to script. The Knights of Spotsylvania were bigger and more sure-footed. Their running backs loved to run over rather than around the Lancer defenders. Amherst's running backs, swift and accustomed to outflanking would-be tacklers, never found their footing and were thrown for a loss on play after play. By half-time the score was Spotsylvania 20 - Amherst 0. The videographer, anticipating that the unfolding Amherst disaster would certainly dampen if not obliterate sales of the video, made a quick dash to the Spotsylvania sidelines as the first half ended. He located the school principal and athletic director and struck a deal:  Spotsylvania's athletic department would purchase enough of the videos to ensure a profit for the film's producer. The resulting video sits on my shelves almost two decades later. Entitled "That Championship Season," it is obvious that the first half and second half are shot from entirely different perspectives. It's as if an hour and a half into "Gone With The Wind" the supporting cast had been suddenly thrust into starring roles while Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh helped fill out crowd scenes. In the end, Spotsylvania held on for a shocking 26-0 shellacking of the heavily favored Lancers. And the videographer made a profit. Have you ever considered that our perspective of the world, of what constitutes truth and power and success, might be so skewed as to be irrevocably irreconcilable with reality? Certainly that's what Jesus encountered during his life on earth. People were placing all their bets on the power structures of Rome and the entrenched religious establishment. God's Word, promising a time of new beginnings based on a Kingdom of justice and righteousness, was generally ignored. Then along came Jesus, challenging the established powers, the undefeated empire, the cocky religious leaders. Anyone recording history in that day would have not placed Jesus in the center of their lens. He was an upstart quarterback with a rag-tag team supporting him. When the ultimate contest was commenced, all he had to his credit was a thorny crown, a rugged cross, and a robe given to him in mockery (even that was taken away from him by soldiers gambling at the foot of the cross). Anyone recording the first half of this contest would certainly focus on the power mongers:  Herod, Pilate, and the High Priest of the Sanhedrin - Caiaphas. But a wise videographer would have walked across the playing field and placed himself at the garden tomb for the second half. The tide turned, the underdog Jesus dominated, the cosmic purveyors of death were defeated. Jesus emerged victorious! Life is odd, isn't it? What seems certain is often mere mist. And what seems unbelievable can invade, overturn and shatter our most dearly held assumptions. In everyone's life there is a point where we must decide - will we abandon our stubbornly held prejudices and assumptions as bit by bit they are trounced by life's realities? Will we cross the playing field and embrace the ultimate truth of Christ's victory: " ...having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15)." Will we ultimately be able to say that, through Jesus Christ, our life was "That Championship Season"?