See part one of this reflection here.
Through our baptism and assent of faith, heaven becomes our destiny and our end. Through the following scenes from Ted Lasso Season 3, I seek to affirm the instances where goodness is present because it is exactly these scenes which, if baptized, draw us toward our destiny and our end.
In Episode 5 (“Signs”), the iconic “Believe” sign taped above the door to Ted’s office falls off just as the team is on the precipice of despair. Disturbing timing, of course. But, instead of feeding a superstition vested in the power of a sheet of paper, Ted reminds the team that “belief doesn’t just happen because you hang something on a wall.” In an incredibly raw and heartfelt speech, he expertly captures the essence of our human frailty and our simultaneous profound dignity. Here it is:
“Belief… comes from in here [he points to his heart], and up here [his head] and down here [his gut]. The only problem is, we’ve all got so much junk floatin’ through us, a lot of times we end up gettin’ in our own way. Crap like envy, or fear — shame. I don’t wanna mess around with that shit anymore. You know what I wanna mess around with? The belief that I matter, you know, regardless of what I do or don’t achieve. Or the belief that we all deserve to be loved, whether we’ve been hurt or maybe we’ve hurt somebody else. Or what about the belief of hope? Yeah, that’s what I want to mess with. Believing that things can get better — that I can get better. That we will get better. Oh man. To believe in yourself, to believe in one another — man that’s, that’s fundamental to being alive. And look, yo, hey, if you can do that — if each of you can truly do that — can’t nobody rip that apart.”
Ted! Amen brother! Getting right to the heart of things. These words draw especially near to the kingdom of heaven and I don’t want to downplay that at all. But let’s see if we can baptize them.
Tell me if this cycle sounds familiar: I resolve (very firmly!) to leave behind the junk floating through me that gets in my way. I begin again, believe that I matter and that I can get better, that I’m good, and that I deserve to be loved. But then, at some point, usually, the same day given the extent of my depravity, I fall right back into my envy, fear, shame, etc. Ted seems to be similar. Episode 8 chronicles some concerningly obsessive and envious behavior. If you’re like either of us, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!
Thus, the pattern is, no matter how hard I try, I can’t shake the junk. There are so many moments where I just cannot make it happen on my own, even with the best of intentions and the best of friends. I need a savior! Jesus reminds me: “I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
In the next episode, “Sunflowers”, we see that just because Ted gave a motivational speech doesn’t mean everyone’s problems go away. After a jarring loss, he expresses his lament to Coach Beard.
“I don’t know what’s going on with me coach. It’s like I’m feeling stuck or something you know. Like I need to do something to help me get me out of my head. Like get punched in the face or drink a couple bottles of red wine and yell at my mom. You know, just I wanna try something new. Help me get inspired.”
Beard immediately suggests drugs as the remedy, so I feared the message would be “do drugs to get inspired.” Thankfully, I was wrong because that would be a message tragically short of The Good News. Ted desires consolation, inspiration, and restoration but he doesn’t know he has a God who has the power to raise even from the dead. So instead, Ted uses the drugs (which turned out to be a dud batch by the way), settling for far too little. That is frustrating, but exciting at the same time. He has the courage to admit something is not working and the desperation to explore new means for renewal. In the midst of that desperation, the Lord is near. If Ted had sat with this ache for just a few minutes longer, I wonder if he would have heard the still, small voice of the Divine Physician asking permission to bring him new life.
Our final candidate for baptism appears at the very end of Episode 7 (“The Strings That Bind Us”). Trent Crimm bursts into the hallway with an excited declaration for Ted.
“It’s going to work! And here’s why. The Lasso way. You haven’t switched tactics in a week. No, you’ve done this over three seasons. Yes, by slowly but surely building a club wide culture of trust and support through thousands of imperceptible moments all leading to their inevitable conclusion. Total football. It’s gonna work!”
In the same way, the Lord is moving through thousands of imperceptible moments. He is always sustaining us, ever knocking on the door of our hearts. The Lord does not break through in one burst of glory, but through countless unrecognized requests for communion and provisions of love. I pray these requests and provisions, via the seeds of truth, goodness, and beauty found in this series, would lead either to baptism or to the renewal of its promises.
I feel so convinced that the way AFC Richmond wins, even when they lose, is with Jesus Christ. Through Him and with Him and in Him, the source and summit. And I believe the same is true for us. May we give Jesus permission to do whatever it is He wants to do and may we approach Him with the words of Samuel on our lips: “speak Lord for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9).