Duty called me from the couch where I was watching a college football game, one of my favorite pastimes. We were planning to leave on a trip to New York early the next week so our lawn had to be raked and mowed on Saturday, college football's game day.
One of the teams in the game I had started watching was a top contender for the national championship, increasing the temptation to leave the leaves to themselves. After all, this game might determine which team would ultimately be crowned number one.
There were also a number of other good reasons why the call of the couch contended with the call of duty. This had been an extremely busy week as well as a very taxing day. I had risen at five o'clock for an early morning appointment and could make a convincing case for spending the afternoon relaxing. Still, I somehow mustered the ambition and strength to pass up the pleasure of watching the game and headed, rake in hand, for our front lawn.
Once at work, I was surprised at how quickly my attention turned from football to the natural beauty of that sunny October afternoon. Above me was a canopy of green, red, yellow and brown leaves, some appearing as alive as when they had been called from their buds by warm spring breezes while others were at various stages of ending their cycles of life. A few were floating multicolored and crinkled to the ground. The melancholy, yet exhilarating, feeling of fall was in the air and soon I found myself captured by the autumn glory around me, even feeling grateful to be raking my lawn instead of watching the football game.
What brought about this change of attitude? Involvement.
A few moments earlier I had been a spectator. Now I was a participant.
My day became more meaningful because I was now profitably engaged in doing something rather than just watching others perform.
Like most couch quarterbacks, I would probably have been able to find some weaknesses in the coaching or execution of the teams, had I watched the game. But working there in the middle of this photographer's dream I could find no fault with how God was developing his annual portrait of splendor. Instead, the wonder of the moment caused me identify with the Psalmist when he exclaimed, The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalms 19:1)! Fall's colorama was doing the same for me.
Since that Saturday when I decided to leave the football game to work in my yard, I've thought about the importance of involvement in another beautiful part of God's creation: His church.
Many churches are hindered by Sunday afternoon quarterbacks: members who are critics of sermons and songs but who never really get involved in the mission of the church. These gripers gather in little groups to grumble about what's being done, but seldom do anything constructive themselves. They're living proof that it's always easier to be part of the faction than to get into the action.
Those who conquer the spectator syndrome by telling others of God's love and sharing what He means to them demonstrate who's number one in their lives. And they'll be crowned winners when they leave.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.