Local Friday night football games have become something I look forward to and enjoy. Sitting on the bleachers in clothes layered in school colors while eating popcorn, nachos and funnel cake (don’t judge… it is all part of my “experience”) bring an added joy to the end of the week. Football players get the fans screaming to holding their breaths while cheerleaders keep the sidelines glowing in school pride. Sounds of bass, woodwinds and percussion instruments play familiar stand tunes that our feet tap to in sync… often without us even realizing we are participating. Yes, so many of us love local football.

So when I invited some relatives to join my husband and I recently to watch a game, I was surprised by one of the questions we were asked: “Do we need to go to the other side to see the marching band perform or will they be playing toward us?”

My husband simply replied, “The band always plays toward home.”

Little did I know how much his answer would resonate with me in the days to follow. I kept asking myself, “Do I consistently play toward home?”

So many of us get caught looking backwards, shaking the dust off hurtful memories which God has already forgiven and forgotten. We hold onto shame and poor choices of the past, allowing them to steal our attention… even if for a moment… or two. We allow Satan to condemn us even though Jesus has already freed us, and we cheat ourselves of the gift of today’s peace.

Or perhaps we are spending a fair share of our time playing to the world rather than living with an eternal perspective. We search the crowd for approval; when we are rejected, because we all have all experienced rejection, we question who we are despite the fact God knows exactly who we are… we are HIS.

And there are some who are living in a cycle of negativity and bitterness. What comes from their mouths is telling of the condition of their heart. There is a judgmental and arrogant aura about them, and they survive by the majority of one — themselves. They leave God’s blessings on the table as they search in darkness for something to satisfy them.

Lastly, there are those who withdraw, silencing their best because they feel weak and worthless. They live with a gnawing feeling as if something is wrong, but they cannot always place the cause. These feelings cloud their view, and they remain isolated even when surrounded by others.

How well are we doing playing toward home? Whose expectations are we trying to live by, ours or Gods? Are we more afraid we can’t control our current situation or that God can’t… or both? Are we using the gifts and talents God gives us to make Him known more than ourselves? If not, perhaps we need to look at the condition of our heart. After all, authentic actions follow an authentic heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

When we hear the clanging noises of the world, and we feel the breath of Satan tempting us with distractions, discouragement, pride or isolation, we must PROTECT our heart. Talk to God and ask for help. Pray earnestly and fervently. Point your thoughts toward home — your eternal home.

Your best intentions will still lead to failure and doubt if you are not trusting in God and redirecting your thoughts toward Him. Sometimes our best prayer is simply the prayer of Peter:

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30).

So, ask yourself: When am I most tempted to take my focus off my eternal home? Where am I most tempted? How do I feel right before I am tempted? And how do I feel when I give in?

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40).

May we remember this week, “the band always plays toward home.”

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib. com.