The 12th Man

 
 It's time once again for Superbowl Sunday SUNDAY SUNDAY!!! Like lots of folks, it doesn't matter if I haven't seen a single game of the season, I always pick someone to root for in the Superbowl. Sometimes I pick based on the individual players on the team. Sometimes, it's the idea of the team itself...you know, what they seem to stand for. Occaisionally, I will even cheer on a team just because I like the coach. To be honest - and here's my girlie side - I have chosen teams in the past for no other reason than the fact that I liked their uniforms better. No matter the criteria, I always choose a side (I even wrote a great blog post in honor of Superbowl 45 about the importance of picking a side...read it here).

Unlike most years, however, I actually have a dog in the fight this year. As a native of Washington State, I am naturally a Seattle Seahawks fan. I consider the Hawks my hometown team and always root for them. I've really liked a lot of their players over the years, and they've had a couple of really good coaches. And what's not to love about a lime green jersey, right? But the thing I love most about Seahawks football is what sets them apart from other teams in my book: the 12th man. The "12th Man" is a pretty common metaphor for the hometown fans of any given team. For you non-football fans out there, I'll give you quick explanation of the phrase. There are 11 players on a football team, so the fans essentially embody the 12th player and become a part of the team. Some teams, like the Seahawks, have brought this metaphor to life and embraced it as an integral part of their team's traditions. All you have to do is watch a few minutes of a Seahawks game and you'll know what I mean. The Seattle fans are loud and proud, sporting the Guiness World Record for loudest stadium noise. They're not only the Legion of Boom in the stadium, though. They are fanatic fans all over town, all the time. I'm proud to be part of that 12th man squad, all the way down here in Georgia!

So...what does the 12th Man have to do with Church? Why am I writing about this on the Gateway Blog? Glad you asked! 

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," - Hbr 12:1 

As I step onto my own playing field called life, I know I have a prize to win and an opponent to face.  I know the Lord is on my side, but He is not the only one. I envision that great cloud of witnesses in Heaven's grandstands cheering me on. I know there is that magnificent fan base in Heaven, but I also have my Church family here on earth to uplift, support, encourage and exhort me. "Defense! Hold that enemy back! C'mon... get your head in the game! You can do this! Run, baby, run!!!!" Voices around me combine with the voices in Heaven to be the most deafening 12th Man around, drowning out the enemy's plans and cheering me on to victory. 

The best and most successful teams and players are the ones with a strong 12th Man supporting them. Are you in the game?

~by Linda Frederick

photo by Scott Williams, Seattle, WA

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