The Twelfth Player

September 19, 2022

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

The notion of the 12th player (a.k.a.) man originated on January 2, 1922, when underdog Texas A&M football team played top-ranked Centre College called their last reserve, H. Gill, who was only playing basketball to suit up and stand ready on the sideline in case they needed him. The Aggies went on to win 22014, and Gill was the only player left standing on the sidelines.

Since then, the term has been used primarily for the crowds of fans at games that provide motivation, encouragement, and energy for their team. The Aggies now have the Maroon Out – when screaming fans dressed in school colors at their energy to the team on the field.

Last week Rod and I went to watch our oldest granddaughter’s field hockey game. Our grandson moved away from me as my cheering was hurting his ears. There was one moment later in the game when the referee missed an obvious foul, and Rod and I both said, “Huh?” which earned us warnings by our son to keep it down. We were a part of the Twelfth Player, although perhaps a bit over-the-top at a game with dozens rather than thousands of fans.

The writer of Hebrews described something like the Twelfth Player, a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith who surround the playing field and cheer us on through the difficulties of life. I imagine my parents, my grandmother, and my sisters as well as friends and beloved church members who have gone before me into life eternal in that role.  

It can seem like we are alone at times, or that we are going up against something that greatly outranks us. Don’t quit, don’t let the problems in life stop you. There is a huge crowd acting as the Twelfth Player. Run the race. They are cheering you on. ~ Anne

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