ANALYSIS OF AN ANALOGY – “ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACKS”
A Play in One Act
SETTING: A professional football stadium, sparsely attended. A man has just found his seat and begins to look through the program. His friend arrives.
REFORMED BRAIN: You made it! I thought I was going to have to watch this analogy alone.
FREE WILL BRAIN: (Looking around at the low turnout) Ha! No trouble finding parking for this one. Give me the gist.
REFORMED BRAIN: Well today we’ve got a football analogy. (They both groan) Looks like it’s Fear vs. Love.
FREE WILL BRAIN: Not terribly original, but it has to be done. Let’s see what She’s got.
(A whistle blows. Two teams run onto the field. A woman seated in front of the two men stands to cheer. They both lean to either side to see past her.)
“From the prompt: Living from love-based thoughts vs fear-based thoughts”
You’re playing football. You’re the quarterback. Your defense sucks. And your opponents are scoring big. You need some points. The coach puts you in to score. But instead of scoring, you keep taking a knee, or intentionally grounding, or you fall on the ball waiting for the crunch of bodies to land on you. You aren’t trying to score at all. You are just trying to hold on to the ball for dear life.
And that is what living out of fear looks like to me. You make no gains. You score no points. And maybe you wish someone else was the quarterback. “What is the point of all this?” you may ask.
REFORMED BRAIN: Well, She just jumped right into this one! “Let’s don’t bore the reader by laying any groundwork!” (he laughs, and takes a puff of his cigar).
FREE WILL BRAIN: Maybe that’s for the best. Less is more. Less is also less, which isn’t always bad… But who is supposed to be the coach in this analogy? God I’m assuming. (he begins eating a hot dog)
REFORMED BRAIN: Yes, the coach is definitely God. And the quarterback is a person… a Christian we can assume. But what does the writer mean by “score”? Is scoring reaching new levels of sanctification by perceiving more clearly the depth to which his sinful nature separates him from God and causing him to experience God’s grace more fully? And isn’t that the work of the Holy Spirit? Hey, who is the Holy Spirit in this game?
FREE WILL BRAIN: Well, firstly, I think by “scoring” the writer means “winning others to Christ” and the Holy Spirit is the Gatorade–
REFORMED BRAIN: Wait wait wait…. the Gatorade? A drink that the man chooses to drink? I don’t think the Holy Spirit waits for you to choose–
(The whistle blows. The woman in front stands to cheer again)
And now consider the opposite way to live. What does living from love-based thoughts look like? Continuing with the football analogy, I imagine it would be a slow and steady forward march. There could be some glorious passes, some miraculous interceptions, but mostly slow and steady progress. And I imagine there would be some hard hits as well, but always with the quarterback getting up again and again. Always moving forward.
But here’s the thing: Imagine that you, the quarterback, already know you are going to win. You’re likely going to have some big bruises and maybe a concussion or two, but you know the outcome in advance.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
REFORMED BRAIN: Perseverance of the Saints. That’s solid. (He takes a puff of his cigar)
FREE WILL BRAIN: (With mouth full of nachos) Yeah, solid. Once saved always saved. But give the quarterback some credit for continuing forward instead of giving up. He did have to have faith.
REFORMED BRAIN: (Sipping beer) Now about that….
(Whistle blows again. Woman stands to cheer)
It seems so simple. Living from love-based thoughts is moving forward to make new ground. It’s moving to get somewhere, to help someone, to do some thing, or to simply keep going. While fear-based living is duck-and-cover and sometimes wishing it would all go away.
So why would anybody choose fear over love?
FREE WILL BRAIN: (With soda in one hand and bag of peanuts in the other he signals touch down with both arms up) We choose!
REFORMED BRAIN: Settle down.
(Whistle blows, woman cheers)
I honestly don’t know why we sometimes choose fear over love. For some it seems so easy to abandon fear-based living. They seem to have said, “No more living in fear!” and then they turn their face toward loving others, loving ourselves, loving God and they don’t give fear another thought. Well, not on a daily basis, anyway.
FREE WILL BRAIN: (holding cotton candy) Lifting yourself up by your bootstraps! There you go! Working hard is a sign of maturity, don’t you think?
REFORMED BRAIN: (pouring a Scotch) Maybe. Working hard can be a sign of God’s work you in your life. But this self-supporting self-helping “it’s all me” attitude is very American and not very Biblical. But I think we are digressing. She’s forgetting WHO it is that moves us from fear to love. What’s the next play on the field?
(woman in front stands to cheer again, they lean to see past her)
One thing I think we should consider when we ask ourselves why someone would choose fear is that we all different. Some of us have more built-in bravery than others, and some have more built-in fear. And some of us have faced much greater difficulties than others. We really have no idea how much tape is holding someone together. If we remember this, we would be kinder.
REFORMED BRAIN: (Licking salt off Margarita) I would love to disagree here, but I’ll let this go. For the moment.
FREE WILL BRAIN: (Holding a mustard pretzel) Yeah, I guess this is okay. But I still think you could be braver if you really tried.
REFORMED BRAIN: She isn’t saying you shouldn’t try to be braver, She’s saying we all have different starting points.
(Whistle, woman cheers)
But here’s my point: Living in fear is a stand-still way to live, but it IS understandable and it is 100% forgivable and it doesn’t have to be the final word. We can live love-based lives (forward! on the offense!) one play at a time. We can trust God one moment at a time because he has won everything.
“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
REFORMED BRAIN: Amen. (puts martini glass down) I would like to emphasize that it is always God that moves us. God is the one who uses (and allows) all our suffering, all our sacks and fumbles. And God is the one who brings us into, must I say it, the end zone.
FREE WILL BRAIN: Yes. But we’re still supposed to try.
(Whistle blows, The woman in front stands up and begins walking to the exit.
REFORMED BRAIN and FREE WILL BRAIN stand to leave. REFORMED BRAIN taps an usher on the shoulder and points to the woman)
REFORMED BRAIN: Excuse me, who is that woman?
USHER: Her? That’s the quarterback’s mom. She doesn’t understand football very much, but she’s always here cheering for him.
FREE WILL BRAIN: (Speaking to REFORMED BRAIN as they walk) Oh…. huh? So who is she supposed to be in this analogy?
REFORMED BRAIN: The prayers of the Saints, of course!
FREE WILL BRAIN: Yeah, that makes sense. (He pauses a moment) So, who are we?
REFORMED BRAIN: I have no idea.
(REFORMED BRAIN and FREE WILL BRAIN begin to leave the stadium together. REFORMED BRAIN staggers a bit while FREE WILL BRAIN wipes crumbs from his shirt.)