Put Me in, Coach!

Ezekiel 38:7

As a lover of all things classic rock, one of my special favorites is Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR).  Today, I can hear John Fogerty’s voice, unleashing the strains that give voice to the aspirations of myriads of young men everywhere:

Oh, put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, I can be centerfield

In my last post, I recalled the disappointment of being relegated to basketball, learning a brand new sport in a brand new town.  It’s not really that I have any philosophical opposition to basketball, it just wasn’t football.  Part of my issue was I knew I was in the lower tier of athletes. I was usually small for my age, and don’t forget, I was cross-eyed.  Basketball and baseball require any given player at any given time being able to catch the ball. My right eye betrayed me every time, as it caused issues with depth-perception. More often than not, the ball would hit me square in the face. In football, half the players on the field, by rule, are not expected to catch the ball. Their job is basically to knock the snot out of the fellow across from them, and keep snot-knocking until the whistle blows. As fate would have it, though, I was now expected to not only catch the ball, but dribble the ball, shoot the ball, and get the ball back from the other team, all on a regular basis. That’s a daunting task for a chubby, cross-eyed, transient student.  I decided to learn basketball, none-the-less.

The next few months were filled with a strange expectancy. As I learned the required skills for the game, I decided I not only wanted to learn basketball, I wanted to play basketball.  In football, each team fields 11 players. In basketball, each team has five players on the court.  My chances of playing were just cut in half. I still wanted to play.  As time went on, I learned my role on the team.  When we were 30 points ahead (or behind), and there was less than one minute on the clock, I got to play.  Whenever my 45 seconds came, I was ready.  Actually, I was always ready, just in case seven other players were suddenly injured.  I could save the day for the 7th grade B-team.

Expectancy and readiness are not always easy for us, especially when circumstances find us in a time of long-term projects that are largely controlled by others and out of our hands.  We know there could be a time when we’re called on to do our part, but it’s not always likely in the middle of a tight game.  God instructs us as believers and followers of Christ to always be ready, at a moment’s notice, to be watchful for that moment when He says, “Now! You’re in.” Maybe that’s why I was always inspired by stories of athletes like my nephew, Brittan. He grew up as the son of a preacher. He played high school football for a tiny West Texas town.  He later earned a starting spot on the team for a small college. He sweated and clawed his way onto the practice team for the Chicago Bears, and later the Arizona Cardinals.  He has now been on the active roster of the Cardinals for five years.  He plays in every game. All of that is because he was ready, prepared, when his opportunity came.


This dead-ish time of year, after the major holidays, waiting for the long dark nights to end and the warmth of spring to begin, this is your time of preparation. This is my time of preparation. In fact, many in my family are experiencing that preparatory waiting. My oldest daughter is engaged to be married. She is waiting and preparing.  My younger daughter is expecting her third child. She is waiting and preparing. Waiting is hard. Preparing is harder. Sitting on the bench and watching can be maddening. My friend, if you will walk with God, if you will be diligent to prepare, if you are watchful and prayerful, that moment will come for you. It will.

By the time I moved from Basketball, Texas to a larger town, I had been named the most improved player on the team.  That may not sound like much, but I had earned regular playing time in the dead middle of games that weren’t a blow out. For me, that was victory.  I should also point out that my family then moved to a town where the schools played football.  I had never played football on an organized team, and I was joining a team that had played together as a unit since 8th grade.  I got to start the learning process all over again.

Published in: on January 3, 2018 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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