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October 6, 2012

When I was a kid in school, I’d inhale my lunch, so I could go outside and play touch football.  At the small Christian school that my parents started, kids from grade school through high school would play touch football in all kinds of weather.  There were a couple of important rules we played by: don’t squash the little kids, and three completed passes gets you a first down.

When no adults were around, we did our best to organize teams with matched talent. We had combinations of long and short plays. We got muddy, and had fun, and probably smelled rather ripe going into our afternoon classes. But when my Dad was around, he encouraged us to play “boys against girls.”  He played on the girls’ team. Maybe my memory has faded, but I don’t recall a single instance when the girls’ team lost.

My dad didn’t play on our team to run the big play. In fact, when he was on our team, we pretty much had one play: take two steps, turn around, and catch the ball. All we wanted was a completion. Because three completed passes gets you a first down.

The shortest kid could throw the ball. The slowest kid could catch it. Talent didn’t matter; we were all involved. It took forever to get to the end zone, but get there we did, because every first down kept the drive alive.


Sometimes we who defend the value of human life get discouraged. We want the flea flicker, or the Hail Mary pass. We want the 80-yard completion that gets Roe v. Wade overturned, or the 50-yard field goal that bans research on human embryos. We want to end human trafficking today! We want an end zone celebration!

But when a young mother chooses adoption over abortion, that’s a “completed pass” on behalf of life. When adult stem cell research leads to another successful medical treatment, we just completed another “pass.” When people raise awareness about human trafficking, leading to laws that protect innocent humans enslavement, that’s another “completion.” In this game, anyone can make a difference. Your gender, your size, your talents don’t matter – keep the “end zone” in sight. Compassion and respect for human persons will take you to places where real people have real needs. You can help meet them.

So don’t give up. Because three completions gets you a first down. And another first down is all that it takes to keep the drive alive.

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