Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter of his team’s win over Baltimore last night and whipped out a replica Pro Football Hall of Fame blazer with the words “Future H.O.F. 20??” on the back. He strutted around the sidelines wearing the coat, much to the delight of photographers and commentators who’d been guessing for weeks how Johnson would celebrate his first TD of the season.
Johnson is dumb. His agent must be dumber. If he really has designs on the Hall of Fame, this was a dumb move.
This was not a spontaneous celebration. This one took plenty of foresight and planning. His agent was in on it. Several of Johnson’s advisors must have known this was coming. And apparantly they all told him it was a good idea. And even if they advised him otherwise, Johnson obviously overruled them.
Forget for a moment any opinions you may or may not have about how those kinds of staged celebrations call attention to the individual and disrespect the other 52 members of the team who helped score the touchdown. Forget the way those kinds of things alienate teammates and lead to disharmony on the bench and in the lockerroom. Let’s think for a minute about how the Hall of Fame Selection Committee views this.
The Hall of Fame Selection Committee, a fairly exclusive group of sportswriters and former players, mainly grizzled old-guard veteran types who see themselves as protectors of the dignity of the game, work unashamedly at keeping guys out of the Hall, not putting them in. It’s a brutal process. They disect every aspect of a man’s career, including off-field issues and whether anybody got along with the guy or not. If a man ever brings disgrace to the game or attempts to set himself up above the game and the teams, that man will have a very difficult time getting in. These guys on the committee hold grudges. They vote with bias and partiality. It’s not easy to get in. And if you violate any of their written or unwritten codes of honor, you have to hold a dozen league records and a couple of Super Bowl rings to even sniff a chance of being voted in.
I promise you, when Chad Johnson becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, five years after his retirement, whenever that is, the stunt he pulled last night will come up. Some will claim he poked fun at the process, that he made light of the committee’s serious work, and that he desecrated the sacred beige blazer. Right or wrong, it will happen.
And as I thought about that while watching the game last night, I was reminded of a sermon I heard Jeff Walling preach at WinterFest and at Tulsa a couple of years ago. Making decisions based on the dot, not the line.
Walling had a bright red posterboard circle, probably two feet in diameter, and told us it represented “right now.” The dot represents the present. Today. And then he had a volunteer run a string of twine from the podium all the way down the center aisle, out the back of the foyer, and into the parking lot where we couldn’t see the end of it. The line. He called that “eternity.” And for 30 minutes that “dot” was up there on the stage and the “line” hung over our heads.
And he talked to us about making decisions based on eternity, not based on the here and now.
Adam and Eve were thinking only about the present when they messed up in the Garden of Eden. They were not thinking long term. Samson continually made decisions based on right now, not based on the big picture. When David was in the middle of breaking over half the ten commandments with Bathsheba, he was making the call based on the moment, not based on the future. The rich young ruler. Judas. Ananias and Saphira. The list of Bible characters who made decisions based on the dot and not the line is long.
And we would do well to learn from those lessons.
The decisions we make regarding how we spend our time. How we spend our money. What we say. What we do. Are we making those daily, hour-by-hour decisions based on the dot or the line? Do we take into consideration the eternal aspect of everything we do or are we driven only by what seems to be good at the moment? Do we reflect on what our actions mean for us and for others in the long run, in the big picture? What are the Kingdom ramifications? How does this impact God’s eternal will for my life? When we’re making our choices, do we consider these things at all?
What will this action do to my wife? How could this choice eventually impact my family? Could my spiritual well-being be compromised by this decision? Is there a chance, down the road, this could harm the Church?
It’s like the end of Moses’ great sermon in Deuteronomy 30, and the end of Jesus’ great sermon on the mount in Matthew 7. It’s like in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2. And it’s like the prophet’s answer to the king in Jeremiah 21. God always gives us choices. He always lays out the options in front of us. Life and prosperity or death and destruction. We make the call. Every day. Every hour. The choices are there. And they are ours. Choose life. Let us make our decisions based on the line, not the dot.
“We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
We’ve always celebrated our children’s birthdays with a family dinner at the restaurant of the birthday girl’s choice. And so far, every kid, every year, we’ve avoided Chuck E. Cheese. Until last night. Carley was adamant. We couldn’t talk her into anything else. And so we went.
Carley and Valerie use their tokens on everything. They try it all. They especially enjoy the skeeball (Carley banged in four or five off the top of the game into the little 10,000 point loop) and they took several whirls on the roller coaster simulator.
Whitney, I think, spent every single one of her tokens shooting hoops.
Carley was absolutely thrilled with the Hannah Montana Barbie dolls, one for Hannah and one for Miley. You parents of elementary school girls understand. Everyone else, I don’t have the energy to explain. All I know is that Disney could take cauliflower and broccoli, turn it into a TV movie and a 30-minute show with a catchy tune, and sell millions and millions of pounds of it to pre-adolescent girls and their parents all over the world.
We couldnt’ find any candles in the house before we left so we actually stuck eight matches in the cake and lit them. You can see from the picture (notice the blackened matchsticks on the right of Carrie-Anne’s hand) that it wasn’t very smooth. Carley was blowing them out as we were lighting them.
We cashed in our nearly 300 tokens for three little toys that we could have purchased at Wal-Mart for 35-cents each. And we listened to Hannah Montana all the way home.
Next up, six little second graders for a sleepover / party Friday night. How do I get out of this to attend the Birdville-Richland football game?