However you feel about the outcome of the Super Bowl last night you probably agree with most of sports minded humanity that the hopes of the Seattle Seahawks ended on a pretty bizarre play. For the 7 of you who were not watching (which included me until the last 3 minutes by the way), Seattle had marched the ball down the field and was on the ½ yard line with 30 seconds and 3 more downs to go. Now pause right there to remember that Seattle has perhaps the most obnoxious, but undeniably unstoppable running back in all of professional football, Marshawn Lynch, and Russell Wilson, the coolest, and most effective scrambling quarterback since Fran Tarkenton, and they had largely stayed in this game by the powerful ground gains of these two men with the occasional miraculous long pass thrown in. Now back to the game, 2nd and goal inside the 1 yard line and somebody from somewhere for some reason thinks it is a good idea to pass the ball. Interception. Game over. And most of America was stunned. It will be talked about until next year’s Super Bowl, the play that should never have been called.
I don’t know who called that play or why they did. I’m sure the sports pundits will be dissecting this thing today more than a pickled frog in a 10th grade biology class. The players were capable. The opportunity was there. The obstacles had been overcome. And the goal line was in sight. But somebody made a terrible decision and all was lost.
Well, enough about football. Let’s talk about life. In fact, let’s talk about my life and yours. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked so hard to get myself into a place where God could bless me, where my circumstances could be overcome, where all that I dreamed He might do in me and through me would finally come to pass, only to make a terrible call on the 1 yard line and blow the whole thing. Well, as a matter of fact I can tell you. 3. I have thrown an interception on the goal line at least three times in my life and each time, when the dust settled and the crowd had left the stadium I was left sitting all alone wondering what just happened and how in the world could I have been so stupid.
Have you ever experienced that? You got mad and quit a job over some petty little thing. You let you pride get in the way in a friendship that meant the world to you and watched it explode. You followed the lust of your heart for just a moment and made a choice that destroyed your spouse and your family. Any of that sound familiar? My imagination is that almost all of us have had at least one mindless, meaningless, mess up that we looked back on almost immediately with shame and regret. The Apostle Paul was so aware of that possibility that he said, “I beat my body and make it a slave so that, even after preaching to others, I won’t fall away and be disqualified from the race.” 1 Cor. 9:27
Listen, making a bad call now and then, fumbling the ball or dropping a pass, that’s just a fact of life. If you are breathing you will fall. (Remember my favorite verse? “Where 2 or 3 are gathered together 1 of them will be stupid.”) But making that life changing, game losing, unexplainable call at the most crucial point in the game is something completely different. That kind of mistake stays with you forever.
So what about that? What do you do when you have called a terrible play or are just about to? 4 quick things.
First, call a quick timeout. I don’t care who you are listening too or what pressure you are feeling, there is no decision that cannot be improved by taking a minute to catch your breath, get on your knees and ask God to give you clarity. Here’s a little prayer that may help you with that. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sound familiar?
Second, refocus on the objective. The purpose is to get into the end zone. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how un-spectacular it is. Just keep pushing ahead and score, don’t try to make a name for yourself with heroic calls and creative plays. Likewise when the allure of immediate gratification and the temptation to feel good just for the moment pops up remember the goal is to finish the race well.
That leads me to the third thing. Listen to the right coach. Now I don’t know what was going on with those magic headsets last night. Pete Caroll, the offensive coordinator, maybe even the quarterback were probably all connected in a quick little discussion. That’s not what we are talking about. No matter what you are thinking about doing, you know if you get quiet enough the God of the universe will whisper in your ear, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
Finally, for those of us, like the Seattle Seahawks that have been the object of Monday morning quarterback discussion, know that, unlike the Super Bowl, the game is not over. God has a plan for you, “a plan to bless you and not to harm you, a plan to give you hope AND A FUTURE.” He is not done with you. Redemption is His middle name (actually it’s probably His first name but you know what I mean.) God can and will send a Messiah into your messes if you let Him. He always has a plan B for you. And God’s 2nd choice is never 2nd rate. He loves you with an everlasting love.
So, keep running the ball. Don’t take yourself out of the game because of a blown assignment. And above all, “Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Now, what about my Titans?