By Tom Ehrich

It would be presumptuous to declare myself an "honorary Alabaman." But in working with a client in Mobile, I have become intrigued by Alabama football.

I started watching Alabama and Auburn games whenever I could. I began hoping that our hapless pro Jets would draft Tide QB AJ McCarron.

The Alabama-Auburn game of two weeks ago was the greatest college game I've seen. Florida State will play Auburn for the national championship in January, but, in my opinion, the national title was decided that November day when two extraordinary teams played vigorously to a tie and then an alert Auburn player caught a missed field goal and ran 109 yards for the winning touchdown as time expired.

Why do I bring this up? You never know what will catch your attention. You never know how an event today will undo the imprint of heritage. You never know what new enthusiasms will arise out of watching grace, excellence and commitment in action.

The biggest part of faith might be nothing more complicated than having open eyes, open ears and an open heart. Allowing room for the unexpected, for the new, for the other-worldly. Allowing pain to enter, and hope, and sadness, and curiosity. Allowing God to say something to you that God has never said before.

For example, I came across a Facebook link to a video by Chet Atkins. ( "I still can't say goodbye," is the song, and it's about his dad. It brought to mind and heart my own dad's death just over a year ago. I don't think about that event much, but here was God saying to me, "Think about it." So I will.

Similarly, while staying in an Alabama hotel this past weekend, I heard a baby crying in the next room. I suddenly realized that I hadn't yet heard the voice of my son's new baby Gabriel. So he quickly sent us four brief videos of the 10-day-old lad holding forth.

Open eyes, open ears and open heart aren't a simple matter, of course. What comes at you might be blah or horrible. But that's the risk of believing. Letting God in means letting other stuff in, too. Sorting through noise and grace happens after we have seen and heard.