Sometimes studying scripture can feel prickly. In studying Proverbs I have felt like a football player in the game of life who keeps getting penalties called on her thoughts, words and actions. Bright yellow flags are flung in the rooms of my heart and mind. There is a contentious referee broadcasting my mistakes with demonstrative arm movements, “Penalty on Katie Koon. Destructive use of her tongue, hostile reaction in anger, and ridiculous amount of time fearing what her friends think.” I read the words of instruction. I see how I don’t live like these words. I pray that I would do the words next time. Then, I get up to start a new day, and in the prophetic words of Britney Spears, “oops I did it again.” Bright…. yellow… flags…everywhere. Here’s the truth about yellow flags. I learned it from my sons who are playing football through a simple city league. Yellow flags show that you are in the game. My boys get flags called on them when they are on the field -- under the eye of the ref, trying to obey the coach, working towards the goal of doing their very best in the game of football. They are 9 and 10 years old. They don’t even know all the rules of the game; and they are certainly not superstars; but they are on that field. If they were not in the game, there would be no flags.
Proverbs 17:3 “the refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts.”
Ladies, these Proverbs prickle because we are on the field of faith, and that is a wonderful, beautiful, everlasting thing! We have signed up to give this game a try. We are reading the Playbook, we are listening to the Coach, we are showing up for practice, and we are choosing to live life on His field according to His Words. The fact that we feel the pinch of the flag shows that He is teaching us, and shows that our hearts are hearing. Better than silver, more valuable than gold, that our hearts are committed to living on His field makes them worth strengthening, worth testing, worth cleansing. “The Lord disciplines those He loves.”
Here’s a second truth about flags. In one week, I watched the same penalties called on my boys get called on middle school boys 5 years older, on college boys 10 years older who were seasoned enough be playing on national TV, and on professional men 20 years older who get paid millions of dollars to play the same game. At every level, the penalties were all the same. The NFL hero gets called “off sides” just as my son does. God gave me a great wink in this. The point is not about perfection, for that will only be reached on the far side of the clouds; the point is to stay in the game. Play by His rules. Live out His words. Choose His field.
Jennifer Steele shared her most frequent prayer these days as a mother in the trenches, “help me, help me, help me.” What a wonderful prayer for every woman on the field of faith. In the game, eyes toward the Coach, seeing the yellow flags, wanting to obey, oh-so-aware of how quickly we stumble, but always believing that there is help within reach. Jesus knew there would be flags as we lived this life on His field. When we see the flag/feel the prick and turn to Him for forgiveness and help, He picks up the flag and offers a clean field once again. Like a mama on the sidelines watching her little boy on the field, He is watching us and with everything He has He is whispering, “I am for you! Keep at it. Stay with me. Oh how I love you!”