No, it’s not some convoluted Mel Gibson-directed saga with mayhem and gore; rather, it’s some thoughts about the annual Bell Game between rivals Brookfield and Marceline.
After the Bulldogs eeked out a 19-9 win a few Fridays back, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the mania that sweeps both towns during this event. Whether good or bad, from the painted paw pranks to the requisite papering of the coaches homes with toilet rolls; from the Highway 36 football player signs to the in-town signs festooning Main Street like a ticker-tape parade…it has that emotional feel of small town America caught up in the moment. Passions are ablaze; team colors are worn with pride.
And when I think about what the Bell Game means to so many, young and old alike, I also take a moment to wonder, “What if we were to take this same kind of passion; this same kind of commitment and put it towards the work of the Lord? How many people could come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? How many of our churches could be packed to overflowing to hear God’s Word?”
An interesting proposition, isn’t it? One that holds a lot of promise…IF we could get everyone on board with the idea. IF the vision could be embraced, and the passion refocused and redefined on doing for the Lord, and not for ourselves.
Now please don’t get me wrong…the Bell Game is a wonderful rivalry; one that dates back for many, many years. It’s a way for two communities to come together and share a common goal, a singular purpose…and that is for each respective team to capture (or recapture) the bell for another year; to ring that instrument with pride and love, and thrust it skyward in victory.
Yet, if we mainly focus on that, and leave God’s work to the wayside, we have done the Lord a terrible disservice. We put the spotlight on what we have done, and not what He has done through us as willing servants. And, when we do this, we have definitely put a football game above reaching out to lost souls for Christ.
My heart grieves for many in our area: those who have not given their lives to Christ; the homeless and destitute; single parents raising families; our shut-ins and nursing home residents…the list seems endless. And if we were to grasp this wonderful passion to reach out to others in Christ’s Name, and use the same energy and time and effort that we put into promoting the Bell Game and its festivities…well, we could see great and miraculous things happen in our communities. Souls saved; lives changed; a revival that could sweep across our area and throughout our state, perhaps.
Are we ready…are we willing.…to take a step out in faith? Will we use the talents and the gifts that the Lord has blessed us with to make a change for others? Finally, can we use our devotion for a football rivalry and re-ignite our faith communities from the pulpits and through our congregations?
The Lord has given us our passion for a reason…let’s use it for Him and His glory.
Until next time, may God bless you and yours!