Holy Competition {The Grove: Competition}

When I signed up to write about Compete I wasn’t thinking about the Super Bowl in America. I swear! Really, pinky promise. You might wonder why I’m starting off protesting so strongly. It’s because my team (the amazing Denver Broncos) is in the Super Bowl—which will be Sunday at 6:00 p.m. EST in the U.S.— and the timing of this theme might look suspicious. It might look like shameless promotion. It wasn’t meant to be that way.

The irony is, I was planning on writing about football, Eden, and competition.

When I first was called to the field, that was what I knew: I was called. God did not make the timing of when I was to go super clear, which was surprising given that at least two other instructions to me pre-field were crystal clear. I mean beyond a shadow of a doubt clear. I was in my early 20s and hadn’t done a lot of big life decision making up to that point. I didn’t know myself, my personality, my wiring, or the way that God lead me to make decisions as well as I do now.

{Let me pause this story to add two pieces of information. 1. At that point the Denver Broncos had gone to the Super Bowl four times and lost four times. Tragic! 2. I’m also a massive Kansas Jayhawks basketball fan and we won the National Championship when I was a sophomore in college. Fantastic!}

So there I was, knowing I was called but not sure when I was to sally forth. You know how every now and then a conversation with God is seared in your memory? The timing of my going to the field is one such conversation. It was short, bordered on the comical, and beyond clear.

“Okay, God, this is how I’ll know it is time to go, the Broncos will win a Super Bowl and the Jayhawks will win another National Championship. When both those things happen, I will know it is time.”

I meant it. Not in a fleece way or a testing of God way or a “you better” way. Just in a “I can’t miss those signs” kind of way. I was sincere and naive and God did not miss a beat.

I actually heard in my heart God laugh at me and say, “Um, that’s not how this works. You’ll go now.” The laughter was so pure and all “Oh Amy, I find you hysterical and I love you.” And so obvious I couldn’t miss it.

Now I will share a very sad piece of news. The Broncos have gone on to win two Super Bowls and the Jayhawks a National Championship in the ensuing years. I was outside of the US for all three!!! All this to say, I love American football and college basketball.

When I think of heaven and I think of you music lovers all happily playing your guitars for 500 hours non-stop, I want to poke my eyes out. And then you foodies who loving cooking. All happily stirring and chopping for eternity. I think the plastic smile pasted on my face won’t be allowed in heaven because it won’t be a place of fakeness. Or those of you who love cleaning or ironing or folding laundry forever. Just writing this out, I can feel the muscles in my throat constricting and I think I’ve about worked myself into a panic.

Over what? How boring I think heaven might be without sports!!!!!!

I know, know, know heaven isn’t boring because God isn’t boring. But it’s one of my greatest fears. I can hardly stand to be bored for a weekend, I cannot bear the thought of being bored for eternity with non-stop music, cooking, or cleaning.

You know that Eden is my catnip. I think about Eden daily. I think about what this aspect of life or that aspect of life would have been like in Eden. What would its pure, unbroken form be like?

We only know broken, tainted competition. Where competing leads to one-upmanship, as Julie said. Or where competing distracts us and leads to problems and M’Lynn shared. Or how it can keep us from our full potential as Laura wrote. We have never tasted competition that doesn’t have a dark side.

I cannot wait to see American Football in heaven. I think there will still be referees and penalties, because some penalties do not involve sin, just mistakes. Starting too soon is a mistake, slamming into someone after they are down and intentionally trying to hurt them, is wrong. I wonder what it will be like to still care about a game, but not have your life feel it is ruined by a loss (hypothetically, I’ve heard other people can feel that way. Oh please let me not be one of those people on Sunday, Jesus! Wink.).

You know we can turn anything into a competition on the field. Language ability, parenting, time spent with local friends, how we handle our finances, quality of marriage, number of converts, length of service, how little or much sleep we get. Sigh. We need Jesus, don’t we?! Thankfully he came to set captives free and one day we won’t be held captive by our faulty relationship with competition.

Until that day . . . Go Broncos :)!

I’ve heard we can either compete or connect. I get what the person was saying, but it also discounts that God can redeem anything. How does the idea of pure and holy competition excite you?


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  1. Michele Womble February 4, 2016

    “When I first was called to the field, that was what I knew: I was called”

    Same here.  I didn’t think I was “qualified” or even what would make me qualified or what I would even really do.  I just knew I was called, and I was going.

    Sports in heaven! of course there’ll be sports in heaven!  But it’ll be so different, all the things we do without the sin that we know too well.

    Gotta run for now but I’ll be back later!

  2. Elizabeth February 4, 2016

    If there are going to be sports in heaven, there better be aerobics too 😉

    1. Amy Young February 5, 2016

      And Zumba! I worship best in aerobic and zumba classes. Often I feel like that’s my real church for the week. But I know most in those rooms aren’t feeling that way :). SO. to have a real zumba/aerobic worship gathering would be awesome! 🙂


  3. Michele Womble February 4, 2016

    I’m back!

    I hear you about thinking about what different aspects of life would have been like in Eden.  My friends and I in Russia often talk about what things were like then and what they will be like. (We’ve even discussed what the original purpose and worth of cockroaches and mosquitoes might have been.  That might be taking it a little far, but when you’re slapping mosquitoes – or running from roaches – it’s hard not to wonder….) 
    Imagine the wonder it would be to look at a roach and truly see that it is fearfully and wonderfully made.   To think how wonderful a mosquito is!

    And competition without sin  – it’s an incredible thought.  I can’t wait to see what that’s like!   I think it’s going to be SO MUCH FUN!


    1. Amy Young February 5, 2016

      Agreed!!! So much fun.

      Ah, now I’ll be thinking about cockroaches today in their glorified form :). Love it. Until then, I won’t feel bad killing them 🙂

  4. Michele Womble February 4, 2016

    And just saying, but there’ll be lots of musical instruments.  I hope we’ll get to hear/play some we’ve never heard of, and I hope we get to invent new ones.

    Maybe we can have instrument inventing competitions. 🙂

    And invent new games.

    (am I getting too carried away?)

    1. Elizabeth February 5, 2016

      No you’re not getting too carried away!

    2. Amy Young February 5, 2016

      Agree with Elizabeth, you’re spot on. This fall I’ve been to several elementary school band concerts and there is just something about kids and musical instruments. They are so playfully serious. I love it.

      (Michele, I’ve studied at least six instruments that I can easily think of . . . maybe more? I’m just not very good at them. At Christmas with my nieces we had a small ensemble where the oddest played the bassoon, #2 the “bells” (looked like a xylophone), #3 the flute, and me the one handed piano … while #4 directed us since she “only” is learning the piano at this point. Her plan is to play the tuba. I love when we all sit around and someone plays the piano and we all sing. It’s so ridiculous Victorian. :))

      1. Michele Womble February 9, 2016

        Oh I love it!  I wish I could have heard your ensemble…(did anyone video it?)

        Wow, studied six instruments….I’m impressed.  I’ve played around with several (maybe 4 or 5?) but not studied, and only 2 of them do I play adequately enough to play in front of a large group (I’ve played them both in worship but one more often than the other). One other one I’ll play in front of a small group, but no more, because I just don’t play it well enough.  I’d like to think that if I had more time to practice I could play them all well (I don’t really know that that’s true) – but I don’t have much time for practice at my season in life plus calling(s), whether or not I WOULD be able to play them well or not I don’t really know. Whenever I think “I wish…” I hear the words (from PandP) “…your time has  been better spent”….I feel like God is speaking those words to me.  Not that I think that some people’s time IS well spent on their instruments…it depends on their calling.  That may sound funny since I do have a couple albums and another on the way…so to clarify, I write the songs but on the recordings most of the time it’s not me on the piano…(it IS me singing them, though. 🙂 )

        I’m digressing, but that’s all to say that – When I look longingly at an instrument, I think “LATER” .  One of my secret hopes is that THERE – I’ll have time to mess around with instruments thoroughly.  And we can all gather round with all our random instruments and voices and maybe it’ll be Victorian or maybe we’ll find that it’s also something else but it’ll be…FUN.


        1. Amy Young February 9, 2016





          When i say “studied” I meant sort of learnt. Not like Juilliard “studied”


          I can barely play any of them now!!!! Michele, you are 5,000 times more a musician than I am!!

          1. Michele Womble February 9, 2016

            😀 i understood you right.  Juilliard never crossed my mind.

            But still, even tinkering is exciting to me.  So – no worries.

  5. Michele Womble February 4, 2016

    on a more serious note: competition – though tainted by sin as EVERYTHING that we are able to know so far in our world IS  – teaches us so much about teamwork.  And Oh, how we need to learn to work together in teams!  And so competition is already being redeemed in our world, if we will let it speak to us and teach us.

    I think I’m going to stop now.  But I keep going away and then thinking of something else. 🙂

    1. Amy Young February 5, 2016

      Come back! More thoughts welcome :)!

      I do love teamwork and the way the Trinity embodies working together and how we are created in that image. Would love to see what “holy competition” between them looks like . . . and one day we will!

  6. T February 5, 2016

    First off, ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK, KU! (that is the age-old chant for the basketball team Amy and I love–if you are at all interested you can look up the origin of basketball and trace it back to Kansas!!!  volleyball players needing better aim and their coach putting up baskets to practice with)   Although the last games I’ve managed to watch have been horrible!  (the WV loss and another one…sadly the guy who was uploading games up to youtube got blocked from doing it for another month or so, so I’ve lost my dealer!  When March comes, we’ll probably buy the ESPN online pass, but it was terrible quality last year, and when I complained they sent me a stupid nonsensical reply!)   And I’m afraid that my husband has watched almost all the Panther’s games this year, so we have to be at odds for the Superbowl, Amy, but we will be watching it the next day instead of staying up so late, so we won’t really be cheering against each other.

    Amy, do you like to play football???, because some of the most fun in my life was playing “powder puff league” in college intramurals!  I played with my tennis team (very wimpy girls, we were) and we beat the softball team and the soccer team (so scary, really!  like i couldn’t even talk to some of those girls in the lunch line, they were that intimidating!).

    Okay, next part:  my mom was one of the most competitive people that I’ve known, but she was so fun about it, and not mean at all.  It was hilarious to watch her play or root for her team.  She just had so much energy and passion for it.  That is my little pic of what competition can be like w/out sin.  All out going for it for the fun of it and bringing along others with us in the joy and effort.  With all the talk of heaven/the new earth, I can’t pass up recommending Randy Alcorn books.  Heaven is huge, and is all his research into what he thinks the Bible tells us about it, but his novels Safely Home and Deadline are great, and the kids’ book Tell Me About Heaven is fantastic.  We just reread it this winter as my 8 yr old was crying for her grandma and I thought we needed a remembering of where she is and what she is doing and how this life is tiny short and the next part is chapter one and on and on and NOT BORING AT ALL!  🙂  seriously, even if you aren’t a kid, read that last book!  🙂

    1. Amy Young February 5, 2016

      Far above the golden valley glorious to view ….. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, go KU!!!

      (Robynn Bliss, co-author of the expectations book we read last spring, lives in Manhattan, KS, so on Wednesday night during the KU/Kstate game I messaged her knowing full well she’s not really a sports fan . . . but it was still fun. I love that part of how sports/competition bring us together and form relationships.)

      And I’m sorry your “dealer” has been blocked. That is so frustrating!!! Does the CBS app/option work for March Madness? That was how I watched March Madness.

      Yesterday I did a whole English/Cultural lesson on the Broncos and the Super Bowl to Chinese scholars and Iranians grad students. :). So, the Super Bowl is definitely on the brain! We can be at odds on Sunday :). I understand team loyalty!

      And I will have to check out those books . . . you know I’m always looking for a good read! Thanks 🙂

      1. T February 5, 2016

        Thanks for the CBS suggestion…I’m just getting that and the CBS Sports app on now…hopefully they won’t require me to use a VPN, as that just narrows the bandwidth tunnel even more!


    2. Michele Womble February 9, 2016

      “All out going for it for the fun of it and bringing along others with us in the joy and effort. “


  7. Kelly February 5, 2016

    I wonder if an aspect of “holy competition” is outdoing one another in love?! Not in an ugly way- but in a pure I want to love you better than I did yesterday, and better than you love me- so we are all increasingly loving one another better. That sounds like heaven to me.

  8. Spring February 6, 2016

    Thank you for helping put competition into perspective!  I guess I never thought about how sin so influences our desire to win.  I think the desire to win is from God but to be better than someone else is not.

  9. Ellie February 12, 2016

    I am late to read posts recently but I am now having lots of thoughts about competition. 🙂 Maybe I’ll get a blog post up and link in the next day or two. Or come back and get some thoughts out!

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