I love autumn. It arrives just as I have grown really tired of long, hot summer days. Its crisp mornings are my favorite part of the day. Its fall colors can be spectacular. And, most importantly, football returns!

I have had a lifelong love affair with football. Some of my favorite childhood memories consist of going to my grandparents’ home to watch football on Sundays. That meant watching the Dallas Cowboys. The game was on no matter what.

I became a Cowboys fan because of that early exposure. I eventually recovered from my 1990s obsession with “America’s Team.” Now, I have a new (for 30 years or so) favorite team, but will refrain from boring you with that information. Go Big Red.

I married a high school English teacher. Our first date was a high school football game. I have attended far too many high-school football games. But, I really enjoy them. 

I am a football player stuck in the body of a waterboy. I tried to play. In seventh grade, everybody who wanted to play could. The coaches did not cut anybody. Our junior high school had two seventh grade teams: an A team and a B team. The best and most promising players played on the A team. I made the B team. Even then, I was the second smallest boy on that team. When it comes to football, at some point, size does matter. The problem was more than just being undersized; I was also pretty slow. That is not a good combination.

However, I did get into one real game. The coach put me in to play cornerback.

It those days, all of our junior high teams ran the offense the high school ran: the Wishbone. That meant all the teams rarely, if ever, threw a pass. Therefore, the job of a cornerback was to cover a receiver who was nothing more than one more blocker or a decoy.

I still remember the play that defined my short-lived, official football career. The opposing team ran a sweep to my side of the defense. I shook off the block of the receiver. I correctly positioned myself to tackle the running back. He must have been held back two or three times. I am pretty certain he was already shaving. He was huge.

My tackle was textbook perfect, except for the result. He ran right over me. But, I held onto him. Eventually, he must have tripped over me. He landed on me, and knocked the wind out of me. 

I laid there. I was not sure if I was dead or alive. I was fairly certain I was closer to the former than the latter. Our coach ran out to me, grabbed me by the belt and lifted me up in a way that allowed me to begin breathing again. He asked if I needed a break. I said nothing, just nodded my head; and, I was back on the bench. 

Normal sized people are not “cut out” to be football players. 

Here is something else I have learned. Most people around us struggle to catch their spiritual breath. They cannot breathe because they are spiritually dead. They look alive, but they are not. I did not catch my spiritual breath until I gave my live to Christ when I was nineteen. Until that time, I had no idea why I had such difficulty “breathing.” 

You and I live in a world where people try to catch their breath in many, many unconstructive ways. Sometimes, they try in destructive ways. People who cannot breathe have never been our enemy. Our enemy is the sin that constricts a person’s capacity to breath. Our enemy is the one who comes only to kill, steal and destroy. 

People need “living hope.” Everyone does. It is the theme for our Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering. When you choose to give to Mission New Mexico you choose to give people all across New Mexico living hope - a chance to breath, to really breath, to come to life.

Your giving will help newer churches deliver hope to new groups of people. Your giving will help feed thousands of people and introduce them to the Bread of Life. Your giving will bring fresh air to college and university students. It will allow children and students to discover the miracle of new life when they attend camps next summer. Your giving will refresh your pastor and his family at our next Ministers and Family Retreat. 

When you give to Mission New Mexico, you make an eternal difference in the lives of many, many people. Thank you for choosing to give generously so that others might have the opportunity to have living hope.    


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