As things are getting interesting in pro football, fans like myself start remembering why we love the game. There is so much strategy, constant action, and consistent excitement in football that, in my opinion, it is a usually a much more interesting viewing experience than say, baseball. That being said, there is much to learn about life in football-overcoming obstacles, crafting strategies to advance personally and professionally, dealing with and overcoming fumbles and interceptions of our plans, and knowing when to punt, to name just a few.
One of the most fascinating topics in football is the so-called prevent defense, which is basically when a defending team basically pulls back and allows shorter advances in order to prevent huge gains by the opponent, eating up clock time and basically strangling the time remaining for the opponent to catch up. The legendary football coach and commentator John Madden once said that the only thing the prevent defense prevents is winning, and there is considerable support for this criticism of the ideology behind allowing your opponent to gain on you in a controlled environment and basically hoping that your foe will run out of time to beat you.
The opposite view of prevent defense, the alternative approach, of course, would be to stay aggressive, keep doing what you have been doing to gain the lead in the first place, and not play “not to lose”. It really comes down to how much you trust in your team’s ability to stifle the opponent while remaining aggressive and playing to win. Yes, you can give up a big play that leads to quick points with a badly timed slip but, you might also bash your opponent further and romp to victory.
Make no mistake about it, the devil is as shrewd a customer as they come, and he is also very patient and cunning. He wants us to believe that, regardless of any advantage we may have at any time with God on our side, we might suddenly give up a big play and end up losing our souls and, of course, that is always a possibility. Furthermore, the devil will entice us to play prevent defense, giving him more and more ground in our lives, minds, hearts, and souls under the pretext and illusion that we are somehow preventing much greater and stunning loss if we do not “play it safe”. We can surely see how this society has slowly allowed and even promoted the erosion of moral responsibility, strict behavior codes, and heightened ethical awareness. The list of “not so bad” or “comparatively ok” behaviors grows by the day. Anyone with strict moral codes is declared to be an extremist, fanatical, hateful, judgmental, old-fashioned, dangerous, and even a terrorist. Simply stated, our society is clamoring for us to play prevent defense with the devil, encouraging us to give ground as we diminish the eternal implications of what we do, feel, believe, and aspire to. The load of rationalizations, exceptions, loopholes, and twisted notions of mercy grows by the hour. Before we know it, the devil will be a yard away from putting us in eternal damnation and we will have never seen it coming until it is too late.
The trick, then, is to stay aggressive with our moral compass, and to maintain our personal moral standards regardless of societal opinions, protests, rationalizations, or mockery. Yes, we will fumble and be intercepted from time to time because we are weak humans. True, we might even be thrown for a loss when things do not go as planned. Definitely, there will come times when we will question our game plan, our chances of success, and even God’s coaching style. Ultimately, however, we must love and trust God enough to lay it all on the line, to throw our fears and hesitations to the wind, and to go for it with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. The “it” I am referring to is serving and glorifying God by placing the talents He has given us in the loving service of others.
You see, when we play prevent defense with the devil, we are surrendering huge chunks of life real estate to him in a pathetic attempt to barter our salvation under the delusion, and illusion, that he will be appeased with just that, and not try to snatch our eternal souls in the process. Remember that the devil is the best liar that has ever existed, and that, while he is patient and cunning, he has a relentless desire to seize our souls for all eternity. Appeasing the devil is a deadly game, and the language of those who have placed more trust in him than in God.
Therefore, put your faith with your attitude is, and trust that God has your back if you will only play believing that He does and stick to His game plan for your salvation. Regardless of how often you fall, and you will, believe and trust in God enough to keep being aggressive and not play scared. Never surrender any part of your life, or any weakness you may have, to the devil, accepting the notion that you cannot beat him there. Likewise, do not fall into the slippery slope of accepting seemingly smaller sins as ransom for preventing larger sins for, as is so often the case, small sins only lead to great sins. Remember that, whether we realize it or not, we as a society and as individuals only measure evil by how far we fall from our current state. In other words, the petty thief will consider grand theft a lesser sin, if a sin at all, than the man who has never stolen anything in his life. Stay vigilant and keep your moral standards high. Immediately and defiantly get up after you fall, even when it seems more hypocritical than sincere to do so.
So, I beg of you; do not play prevent defense with the devil, trusting more in his power to influence your life than in God’s ability to lovingly save it. Instead, fight the devil with all of your strength, amend our life as best you can, and trust in God’s Divine Mercy to back you up. Never surrender an inch of your life to this lying fiend without a fight, regardless of how hopeless at times it may seem to stop his onslaught. Most of all, accept that we are all weak sinners more likely to fall than to remain upright, and vow to spend your energy fighting through that weakness rather than using it as an excuse to weaken and surrender more.
To extend John Madden’s famous line, the only thing that moral prevent defense prevents is your salvation.
Gabriel Garnica, 2014