For those of you who have been comatose the last four days, Clemson defeated Alabama Monday night to win the Football National Championship. My daughter, Sarah, was in Tampa, but she didn’t make it into the game.
The background of the story is this: when Abram, my oldest, attended Duke, they made it to the Final Four in Basketball. Figuring this was a once in a life-time opportunity, we made arrangements to go. My cousin Ned, who is well connected, got us tickets, and we saw Duke defeat the hometown Cinderella team, Butler, in the last second.
I promised Hannah that if UNC-Chapel Hill made it to the Final Four while she was a student, I would take her to the games. Unfortunately, they never made it.
Naturally, Sarah expected the same bargain when she attended Clemson. Last year, I asked her if she wanted to go to the National Championship Game in Arizona. Too far, she said. But this year, the game would be in Tampa, home to many cousins with spare bedrooms.
We held our breath after Pitt beat Clemson. Would they climb back into contention? After winning the ACC championship, Sarah declared she was going to Tampa if they beat Ohio State.
When the dismemberment of Ohio State was over, we arranged for her to stay with my wonderful cousin Marti. Sarah put her deposit in for the Student Ticket Lottery. She prayed for a ticket. Last week came the crushing news that she was not one of the 500 selectees (Note to the NCAA: Only 500 student tickets for each school? Really? Remember it’s the National Collegiate Athletic Association, not the National Corporate Athletic Association). She began to search for tickets on line, but they were outrageous.
She came to me with tears in her eyes, “Daddy, I’ve been praying, and Jesus wants me to go to the National Championship Game. Will you find me a ticket? Will you put it out on your Facebook and Twitter account that your beloved daughter will be unfaithful to Jesus if she doesn’t go?”
Sarah was claiming to have heard a whisper from God. What could I say? I was launch a message series about listening to God and doing what He says. I put up the post. I was hoping someone would respond and say, “Beloved pastor, I have four tickets, and God told me to give them to you so Sarah and her friends could go to the game.” Apparently, no one was listening to that whisper from God.
Instead, I got an offer to buy one ticket, for $1,800. One ticket. Now, I could buy that ticket for Sarah, but her friends would still be outside the stadium. Plus, we just paid for a pretty nice Christmas for all. Plus, I just replaced the front hubs on my truck, requiring me to sell my right kidney. I was a little short on discretionary funds. I had to tell Sarah, “No.”
I expect her to start speaking to me again in 2019.
Sarah made the trip anyway, hoping against hope they would find a way in. They did get to go to a free concert and hang out around the stadium. No angel, however, came to their rescue. The price of tickets did not drop at kickoff. They watched the game from a sketchy pizza place (her words). Still, they basked in the glow of victory.
So why did Sarah go to Tampa, but not go to the game? Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it is wise. And just because you think Jesus has told you to go to the game, doesn’t mean you heard Him correctly. Hard lessons for college kid. Hard lessons for us all.