I’m an unabashed Kansas City Chiefs fans. Cut me and I bleed red. Okay, that’s not the most impressive example I could use, but you get the idea. As I write these words, I’m watching the third quarter of the Chief’s opener against the Broncos—the dreaded Broncos—in the reflection on a picture above my computer. At present, the Chiefs are trailing by a touchdown after a fairly dreadful first half.
If you listen to the TV announcers during a football game, which isn’t always a pleasant experience, then you know that one of the things that they like to talk about is “adjustments.” When the teams go into the locker room at half-time, the coaches, who the announcers love to proclaim as “geniuses,” are supposed to make adjustments. Having never been in a professional football locker room, I can only imagine what the conversations sound like, but I think I’ve listened to John Madden for long enough to have a good idea. Today, the Chief’s coaches probably said something like this:
“Okay, you guys on defense, that little running back is eating you up. He’s running past you and you’re just watching him. Stop it! Tackle him.” Then the offensive coach tells his guys. “You’ve been dropping those passes. Instead of that, catch them!” That’s almost certainly what they say.
Or, in the reflection on the wall, I just saw a better example. The right-handed Denver quarterback, about to be sacked, decided to throw a pass with his left hand. It was intercepted by the Chiefs, who then tied the game. When that quarterback trotted to the sideline, I’m pretty sure that the Broncos coach calmly took him aside and said, “Jake, that wasn’t the smartest thing you’ve ever done. Don’t do that again.”
Learning from bad things that happen is a key for success in just about any field of endeavor, but in football, the adjustments, the learning from mistakes, takes center stage. All through a game, coaches and players work together to make sure that they learn from their mistakes, so that when bad things happen once, they don’t happen again. For example, after the Chiefs gave up a long run for a touchdown to this midget runner from the Broncos, they made adjustments to make sure that wouldn’t happen again. Except that the guy just ran through the Chief’s line for a forty-seven-yard touchdown and a new Broncos lead. It looked like an impressive run in the reflection. You see, you just have to learn from your mistakes, but the Chiefs didn’t, I guess.
Amos points out a much higher stakes situation where people didn’t learn from bad mistakes. Read the awful things that happened in these verses and then see the Lord’s head shake when he says “yet you have not returned to me, declares the Lord,” three times. (And he said it twice in yesterday’s readings.)
Silly people, these Israelites, yet they’re not alone. How must God feel about my continued failures, about my repeated trips into the same areas of sin? I’m no better than those Israelites. My only claim to righteousness lies in Christ, who covers over my mistakes. I have not returned to God, so he sent Christ to bring me home. That’s what I call a home-field advantage.