When a football player gets tackled, what helps protect him? (Show helmet and pads.) His football helmet and his pads. Because the player has on a helmet, does that mean that when he is tackled it will not hurt? No, it still may sting but it protects him from serious injury.
What about this? (Show sports drink.) Players will drink a sports drink to keep them hydrated. This is important because they work hard and they sweat a lot. They need liquids inside them so they will not get dehydrated.
Why would this help them? (Show playbook) This book is full of plays that the players must learn. They must prepare for the game. Not only must they mentally learn the plays, but they trained physically. They have built up muscles that help them. They have learned ways to escape tackles. They have learned skills that help them during the game. They are continuously practicing and perfecting these skills. When they are prepared for the game, it helps protect them from the obstacles they face.
We also have things that help protect us as we run our race.
Like football players have helmets and pads that protect them, we have Jesus. When we rely on Jesus and tell Him the things that are bothering us, He softens the blow for us. He heals our hurts. He never leaves us alone. He gives us comfort. He cares. It does not mean that we will not get “hit” by something, however, it means that we will have Someone to help us when that happens.
Just like football players have sports drinks to help them stay hydrated, we have other Christians to help us. When we gather with them at church or small groups, they help us from getting dry. They help fill us with God things like encouragement from His word and songs about Him. These things are so necessary to keep us filled up.
Football players have playbooks; we, also, have a playbook. But our play book is the ultimate playbook. It is the Bible, God’s word. It helps us prepare. When we read it and when we learn scripture, we are given a weapon to fight against the enemy. We build our spiritual muscles by practicing what God tells us to do in the playbook. We learn skills to deal with everything in life: how to deal with bullies, how to deal with death, how to deal with people that make fun of us, and how to deal with sickness.
If we are going to finish the race, we have to keep our eyes on Jesus. We have to train using the Bible. And we have to depend on our Christian friends to encourage us and to help us.
If we depend on these things and use them, we will not only finish the race but we will finish the race strong.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step.” I Corinthians 9:24-26a
Object lesson excerpt from The Big Game