September ushers in a new season. No, I don't mean fall - I mean college football!
Last year, on an early season Saturday, 17 million viewers tuned in to watch the broadcast games in just one time slot on that single day. Athletic Business reports that 47.6 million fans attended NCAA football games in 2017.
South Carolina, Georgia, Michigan and Notre Dame (oh, did I mention The Irish!?*) will reward fans with fun and possibly some heartache. One of the most exciting plays is the long forward pass to a downfield receiver. It's known as "going deep."
"Going deep" is a phrase that resonates positively in many spheres of life. We speak favorably of others who think carefully and wisely - "deep thinkers." We admire people of depth.
We value "in depth" analysis. We speak in awe of deep feelings and emotions; we yearn for love that is deep, we desire deep commitment.
Our Judeo-Christian faith traditions are full of references to things that are deep. The Hebrew Bible, shared by Christians and Jews alike, recounts in the ancient book of Job that, "He [God] reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light" (Job 12:22 NIV).
Ancient King David cries out in "deep anguish." We learn of wisdom that, "The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream" (Proverbs 18:4).
We are promised that even in difficult times, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned" (Isaiah 9:2).
Anguish and despair might be deep, but as people of hope we are encouraged that God will reveal even greater depth - deep love and promise.
As a Christian, I read our New Testament in which we are told that listening to God's Word is the start of learning about all that God has in store. Referring back to Isaiah (who lived in the 8th Century BCE), Paul, the First Century AD missionary, wrote, "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love him - these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit ... even the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9b-10).
Here and elsewhere, we are led to take the time and make the effort to learn more about God and to study God's promises actions. We are encouraged to "go deep."
A small letter tucked away in the New Testament - John's first letter (1 John) - reminds Christians that to know deep, lasting joy, we must truly know Christ (1 John 1:1-4). We can learn about a deeper life, deep desire, deep truth, deep hope, deep love, and deep certainty.
Whether a person of faith or not, "going deep" is an important endeavor. However one approaches the task, the body, mind and soul are enriched. How might you, "go deep" this autumn?
*Before entering Knox seminary in 2011 for doctoral studies, this writer earned a master's in theology from Notre Dame in 1968.
Joe Crowley is director of adult discipleship at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. firstname.lastname@example.org