I got an e-mail from a friend back in the states yesterday morning pointing out that my soccer club, Arsenal, lost to Norwich 1-0. After hemorrhaging players the past few seasons and dealing with one crisis after another, this season looked to be the one where we would put it all together and make a serious run at the English Premier League title. But you don't lose to one of the worst teams in the league and expect to be a credible challenger. Maybe we'll come back and make a big push later on. There's still time, it's a long season and I'll support the Gunners to the bitter end, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't think that this will be the year for us to lift any meaningful silverware. Being an Arsenal supporter can be messy.
Those who know me well know that I bleed burnt orange. Seriously, when I get a cut or a nosebleed, the liquid which pours forth from my flesh is literally orange with a hint of dark brown. I can't remember a time when I didn't follow the Texas Longhorns and for most of my 30 plus years of college football watching, the Horns haven't lived up to the lofty expectations set for them back in the golden days of Royal, Street, and Campbell. I'm not a fair-weather fan. I've supported the University right through the Akers, McWilliams, Mackovic, and now Brown years. There have been some highs and lows, and though I've uttered some unkind words for both players and coaches, I've never quit supporting them. I didn't stay up to watch them at 1 AM Dublin time this past weekend, but I caught the game on ESPN player on Sunday morning. It was good to get a win after last week's embarrassment, but 5-2, #23 in the BCS and being irrelevant on the national stage for the third year in a row isn't good enough for the University of Texas at Austin. It's unacceptable, but it's reality. Being a Longhorn fan can be messy.
Sports and other hobbies or diversions are not even close to being the most important things in life, but I do believe that they can teach us a lot about life. Supporting and playing on sports teams has its ups and downs, highs and lows, as does life. Rarely do sports seasons unfold quite like we hope them to. Rarely does life unfold like we expect. Life is messy, isn't it? At times it gets really, really messy. Even when we aren't going through a crisis, even when the Sun is shining, even when things are going relatively well, life is messy. Since I'm a neat freak, this kind of annoys me, but I'm learning to live with the messiness in my own life and the lives of those around me.
One of the things that rings true to me about the Biblical story is that it too is messy. No sooner is God's good creation complete, then things turn nasty in a hurry. From Genesis 3-11 the proverbial excrement hits the fan and stuff gets blown about the room in alarming fashion. But then we turn the page and God begins to bring order out of chaos. He calls a man and then a people and things begin to progress and make sense once more. Well, kind of. Throughout the story of Israel, there's all sorts of messiness. Messy lives, messy people, messy situations - it's just all sorts of messy! And then out of the messiness of history a child, a Messiah, a Son of Man, the Son of God is born. God the Son actually enters into the messiness of our lives and the messiness of his own life. In Jesus' own story, the history of the Universe takes a turn that none could have predicted, but a turn that actually begins to make sense of all this messiness we find ourselves in.
Because of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God we can begin to make sense of our chaotic lives. But that doesn't automatically make them less messy. The tornadoes and hurricanes of our world still blow stuff about the rooms of our lives and as soon as we get one mess cleaned up, a new one whooshes in. That's life. But the good news of the gospel tells us that the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the inconsistencies of this existence are being ironed out and a that a beautiful mosaic or tapestry is being created from the chaos. Okay, so a bit of a mixed metaphor, but just like life, its messy. - Shay