“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” – Genesis 1:28
With football season well under way, there is no shortage of games to watch on TV. And whether you’re a fan or not, most of us Americans have at least a rudimentary understanding of the game. But just in case, here are the basics. Two teams on the field, each trying to score points by penetrating the goal line of the opposing team. Each team has an offensive squad and a defensive squad. The purpose of the offense, which means it has possession of the ball, is to advance toward the opposing team’s goal. The purpose of the defense is twofold: (1) to defend against the advancement of the opposing offense, and (2) to regain possession of the ball on behalf of their own team’s offense.
It behooves us to live our lives likewise; for we each have a purpose, something we spend our lives advancing toward. But there are times when we are not in possession of the ball. We encounter obstacles, requiring us to play defense. And just like football, the purpose is twofold: (1) to defend against being deterred by the obstacles, and (2) to regain possession of the ball on behalf of achieving our real purpose.
At age ninety, after living a remarkably active and purposeful life, my grandmother suffered a mild stroke. While not terribly debilitating, it nonetheless impacted her health status enough that she was no longer able to live alone. My mother and her siblings went through that painful process of moving her to a place where she would be properly cared for. My grandmother immediately went into defensive mode, resisting the change in every way. Soon, though, she regained possession of the ball and began moving about through the corridors of the nursing home on a mission to lift the spirits of her fellow residents with her cheerful personality and deep faith, exactly what she had been doing all her life.
After creating us in His own image, God delegated us the responsibility of caring for His creation and moving it forward. “Be fruitful and increase in number,” He instructed us, “fill the earth and subdue it.” Although obstacles may sometimes force us into a defensive posture, that should not deter us from striving to regain “possession of the ball” so that we can continue to move down the field – to fulfill our God-given purpose. Or as the Apostle Paul says, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)