Stay In The Pocket and Guard Your Heart

Jesus taught in parables. So let’s use a football analogy to make a spiritual point as we near Super Bowl Sunday. Your heart is a well; neglect the well and your heart will run dry. How do we, as King Solomon instructs in the Book of Proverbs, guard our hearts above all else? That’s the topic of this week’s 5-minute reflection.

I love football. American football, that is. Professional, college, high school, even pew wee flag football. I LOVE ALL OF IT! I grew up in a sports-loving family and on weekends in the fall and winter, my brother, sister, and I would sit down with our parents to watch football while playing a game called Armchair Quarterback. The object of Armchair Quarterback was to play along with the action of the football game, and score points by guessing the plays before they happened. Will the quarterback complete the pass? Will the offensive run left, run right? Will the defense force a turnover? Or sack the quarterback? My family shares great memories of those Armchair Quarterback days, and a lasting benefit is today I understand football rather well.

This Sunday of course is Super Bowl 2019 when the New England Patriots face off with the Los Angeles Rams. Like just about everyone outside the greater Boston area, I will be rooting against the Patriots and their star quarterback Tom Brady. He’s the guy everyone loves to hate, right? However, I will grudgingly acknowledge Tom Brady is one of, if not thee best, quarterbacks of all time. A contender for the GOAT — the greatest of all time. So what is it that makes him so great year after year? There are many factors toward his success, of course, but a biggie is Tom Brady has one of the best offensive lines protecting him in the pocket. The pocket is the area in the backfield created on a passing play where the offensive line forms a wall of protection around the quarterback. The ball is hiked into his hands, Tom Brady drops back, his o-line creates a wall of protection, and Brady often has what seems like forever to find an open receiver.

He trusts the pocket to protect him. Hold that thought.

A friend and I were recently chatting about finding a healthy approach between the need to work in order to pay bills and pay down debt versus the need to rest and spiritually rejuvenate. The more jobs or hours you work, the more money coming in to pay bills and become financially free. But the tradeoff in this paradigm is less time and energy for rest, family, and friends. As we chatted, a passage from Proverbs came to mind when King Solomon says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Above all else, guard your heart. Notice Solomon doesn’t say, Hey, it might be a good idea to try this. Or, When you get a chance, could your look into this? No. He says, Above all else, guard your heart.

King Solomon goes on to say our hearts are the wellspring of life. In other words, the source of everything. Think of a natural spring where water flows to the surface of the earth from deep under the ground. If you plug the spring, you stop the flow of water. Or, if the water becomes contaminated, the entire flow then becomes poisoned and toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Likewise, if your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything — family, friendships, ministry, work. Your heart is a well; neglect the well and your heart will run dry.

So let’s go back to those thoughts about the Patriots’ offensive line protecting Tom Brady in the pocket. What would it look like if we were able to create a pocket around our heart, to guard it above all else? To keep us from scrambling over and again. Worse, from getting sacked when life comes at us hard? How do we build up our offensive lines?

Bob Goff once wrote, “The battle for our hearts is fought on the pages of our calendars.” If you’re feeling weary or like your heart is under attack, I’d ask you to take a look at your calendar. Well, first let’s ask the Holy Spirit to come and enlighten, enflame, and purify our hearts and minds. Then open up your calendar. Where have you spent time and energy? Are there certain tasks that leave you feeling more weary than others? When you feel like your heart is under attack, what’s your go-to response?

I’ll leave it there for us to ponder this week. Next week, I’ll pick back up and share some tangible strategies for how we can go about building up that pocket to guard our hearts. And I promise I won’t use another football analogy. On that note, #GoRams #BeatThePatriots. Enjoy the weekend, friends!

Copyright 2019 Lisa A. Schmidt

Lisa Schmidt is a proud lifelong Iowan and an equally proud alumna of Iowa State University. #GoCyclones! Her roots serve as an inspiration to continually seek opportunities to help make Iowa a great place to live, work, pray, and play. In 2016, Lisa blended her skills for building community with her love for Jesus and founded The Well women’s ministry. Along with her husband Deacon Joel and their four children, the Schmidts are parishioners at St. Pius X in Urbandale, Iowa.