Two Sports Analogies – Time’s Up!

Stoppage Time

It’s probably not a stretch to say that I am not the only American who finds “Soccer” maddening. I get that there are millions of people around the world who will find this offensive. But no offense is intended. This is just how I feel. And yes I know it’s really called football. Ok here goes. First off, they hardly ever score. Secondly there’s this ambiguous rule about “offsides.” Almost every exciting sequence that looks like it might end in a goal is whistled dead because someone is “offsides.” This is like making the fast break in basketball illegal.  Oh and in soccer, you have to have both feet on the ground if you are throwing the ball in. If you don’t keep both feet on the ground, we give the ball to the other team and repeat the endless cycle of kicking the ball around the field and out of bounds and calling offsides, repeatedly.  

Then there’s the matter of stoppage time. The rules state that the clock will be run continuously for two periods of 45 minutes, known as halves, with a 15 minute break in between. But here’s the problem. When the clock runs out the game is NOT over. You see, the referee on the field keeps a separate clock. He accounts for injuries, penalties, substitutions and other miscellaneous events at his discretion throughout the game, and then he adds that time back in at the end of the game. So once the clock runs out the game continues on. “0:00” shows on the clock and the two teams and all the spectators are left wondering, “How long do we really have left?”

Stoppage time can be intense. Since the score is likely to be close (i.e. zero to one; one to zero; or maybe even zero to zero; or perhaps even negative one to zero … I don’t know how they keep it that low.) then the team that is behind, or both teams if it’s a tie are running around like madmen attempting to score but not knowing when the referee will blow the whistle or even if their immediate efforts will pay off or be in vain. I mean if you thought soccer was fast paced during regular play, then you will really enjoy the amped up energy during stoppage time. No, I’m being serious. (If you feel the same way about soccer as I do, you are smiling.)

Folks, we are living in stoppage time right now. The game could be over any second. Many of us feel this innately. That feeling is God is telling us to pay attention to the signs. The energy around us has been amped up. The world is coming apart at the seams. The intensity of evil is multiplying quickly and the players are running around like madmen. Everyone is listening for the referee’s whistle.

D&C 106:4-5 And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night— Therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.

Running out the Clock

The concept of running out the clock applies in many sports but it’s probably hardest to watch in football when your team is behind. The other team has the ball with a couple of minutes left and they are ahead by a field goal. They relentlessly run the ball up the middle, off tackle, or around the end and there seems to be nothing your team can do about it. “All we need is to stop them from getting a first down!” you shout. “Come on! Hold ‘em defense!” I’ve felt it too. It stinks to watch the other team run the clock out when you know that if your boys just could have held the line and made the stop on a few key plays, they would have gotten the ball back with a few minutes left and had a chance to win.

It’s late in the fourth quarter; second down and eight yards to go. Satan has the ball. He is running out the clock. He’s steadily grinding us down and running us over. His boys are menacing. They are evil and strong. They hurt when they hit. They are relentless. Now is the time to admit that we could lose this game if we don’t take drastic action now. First we need to stop the clock. Call time out. It’s time to turn to the coach. Second we need to cause a fumble if we can to get the ball back. Hit back hard. Don’t take any more crap from these guys. It’s time to find the will to win. Most importantly, DO NOT give any more ground to the adversary. And when we get the ball back we are going to throw a literal “Hail Mary.”

If you sense the urgency and you want to win the game against Satan here’s what to do:

  1. Turn to the Coach and repent. This doesn’t mean that you have to figure out how to be perfect. He helps you with that. Just turn to God. That is what repentance means. Now is the time to turn to your maker. Admit that He is God and that you are screwed up. This is key. He can help you. Start talking with Him about it. He will show you what you need to fix. (Moroni 10:32-34) Maybe part of the reason you’re behind is that you haven’t yet asked Him about this.
  1. Hit back hard by putting on the armor of God. Once you have admitted your plight and have turned to the Lord you will have access to all that He wants to give you. One of those things that He does for His children is that He will shield them from the adversary. This is a literal blessing he provides if we are willing to ask in sincerity and humility. Ask Him to shield you and your family from evil and He will. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  1. Throw the proverbial “Hail Mary.” It’s time to go for broke. Pick up the ball and run! Don’t walk. This life is the time to prepare to meet God. (Alma 34:32) If the same spirit that possesses your body now will possess it in the afterlife, then what makes you think that you will want to meet Him then if you haven’t asked to see Him now?  (Alma 34:34) Alma tells us that our salvation can be immediate. One play is all it takes in football. Now is the time. Don’t think it’s not possible. (Alma 34:31)

Please bring these ideas before the Lord in prayer. He is the way the truth and the life. He has already won the game. All you have to do is decide which team you want to play on.

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