When I was a sophomore in high school, I was able to dress out, and sit on the end of the bench during the varsity basketball games. There were 4 or 5 of us. We loved it because we felt absolutely no pressure to win because we were just afterthoughts, or decorations really. We were basically cheerleaders in uniforms, as we were so far down the bench we could barely see the coaches at the other end.
On occasion, however, when we (the varsity team) were up big, we would get our chance to play in garbage time. We would get in and play our hearts out for our shot at getting our name in the paper by scoring a point. That was the ultimate goal, in our 15 year old minds, to become famous by getting our name in print. Of course, we also had a great time inventing the now infamous celebratory dance that we named “the chicken”. The game itself meant nothing to us really, because we weren’t seniors, and it wasn’t really even our team. We just thought about how awesome we could dance, and hoped we could get some playing time, maybe. We looked a lot like these guys..Who are hilarious by the way…
Although we had a great time, and made fools of ourselves dancing, the thing we didn’t understand really until later, was that the games actually meant something. Not that what we were doing was anything bad, but we kind of missed the opportunity to be more of a part of the real game that was going on. We were a little oblivious to the reality of what was at stake. We were a bit blinded by whatever-ness, or lack of perspective. We were content in our little party space at the end of the bench, while the real game was happening all around us.
Today, I feel, many of us are still living our lives like we are the benchwarmers. We are content in our little corners of our lives and sometimes fail to see the importance and gravity of the game that is going on all around us. We are in a game for our lives. The outcome determines our place in the eternities. And sometimes we are only concerned if we can get mentioned in the paper the next morning.
If we take a step back, and look at the test we are in we can think…who are the players? Who are we playing against? Do we even realize we are living right in the middle of the final minutes of the most important game ever?
So how does this look in real life? Over the last few months, there have been an increase in dramatic events that have changed the way many people feel about their lives. With terrorist attacks in Paris, and now in San Bernadino right here at home, it has created an increased level of anxiety and fear. People are grasping at anything, everything, and anybody who claims to offer safety and security. Safety and relative peace cannot be guaranteed, and seem unattainable even impossible. But, we need to remember… what game we are playing?
Are we playing the “whoever dies with the most stuff wins” game? Or, the “whoever gets their name in the paper the most wins” game? Or, the “whoever can dance the most awesome chicken at the end of the bench” game? If so, we will look for peace and safety in the wrong places. We will fall prey to the illusion of secular security, which is nothing more than false security.
When we look at our lives differently, the way we should see them, everything changes. We then begin to realize that the real game is between good and evil and we are here to choose for ourselves which team we want to be on, and then become key players on the team. The only way to win, and achieve true safety and real peace is to align ourselves as close as possible to the One who will ultimately win the game. He is the author of the peace we seek, the Prince of Peace.
Jesus Christ is the only way to find peace. He alone provides the real lasting safety that we all seek, because that is the whole point of this game of life we are all playing. In this game, the elusive sentiment of true happiness is only awarded when we completely and fully disregard the world’s mirage of secular security. When we stop concentrating only on how awesome our chicken dance is, and actually start playing to win.
It is then we will realize that we are involved in a game on a much larger playing field than we ever thought, and we aren’t just hoping for the few minutes of playing time awarded to the scrubs in garbage time, our minds and hearts can be more committed to the pursuit of real and lasting peace, love, security and divine safety that comes only through the Savior of the world.
Joseph Smith wrote about the way the game will end, and its perfect to read when we feel overwhelmed with all the negative or when the evil in the world seems overwhelming, and the game seems to be lost. Just remember, we choose which team we want to be on!
He wrote, “the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
Real peace and safety can come to us. But, it comes when we look to Christ. He pours it upon us when we try to be like Him, and follow Him. He has invited all of us to do so, and find the peace and safety only He provides.
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalms 4:8)
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.” (D&C 6:34)