Recently I was given the opportunity to visit Heinz Field which is home to the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. During my visit, I had the opportunity to stand on the field where the team plays. As I was surveying the sights and pondering what it must be like to be on the field and look up into the stands at 68,400 screaming fans I was mindful of a recent Indianapolis Colts game. In that game the Colts were stooped just one yard (three feet) from the goal line. Standing on Heinz Field looking at the one yard line I thought all a player has to do is fall over and he’s crossed the goal line. How hard is it to move a football one yard?
Life has been compared to many things including games. Solomon could have been thinking of a football game when he penned: Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all (Ec 9:11). The words time and chance leaves us with the feeling that there is providence at work behind the scenes. The event is wholly “in God’s hand.” Oftentimes the fastest runner and the “best team” doesn’t always win. There are unknowns and unforeseen forces at work—time and chance.
The Apostle Paul likeness our journey as a race: Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it (1Co 9:24). The emphasis here is not on the prize but on the preparation and training that proceeds the race and the prize. Some competitors fall by the wayside because they did not follow a strict self-denying diet and rigorous training discipline.
However, between you and the goal and the prize are hurdles and obstructions. To win takes training, willpower, determination and patience—…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Heb 12:1). One hundred yards (three hundred feet) is the distance between goals. It is not going to be a cakewalk to the goal line because every one of the eleven opposing players are there to stop you by force. Hence what is so hard about moving the football one yard? Eleven men on the opposing team standing in your way!
Most people have heard the old proverb that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A team works together. Jesus chose a team of twelve apostles who would be given the charge of birthing His church: Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him (John 6:70-71).
Lastly, a team is no better than its coach. It is the coach who leads the team to victory or defeat. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1Pe 5:8).
Christians are up against the topmost nastiest wickedest cruelest evilest coach out there—the devil. He plays by his own rules, he is crafty, cunning and he cheats! Most people have suffered loss by someone who cheats to get ahead. Cheaters are often hard to detect and harder to overcome.We need someone in our corner who knows the tricks and ploys of the cheater to have any chance of winning. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2).
The good news is Jesus—our coach—has played against the cheater and won! Jesus was once a quarterback leading his team (disciples) on the field. The game was a real nail biter with the devil playing dirty committing every foul in the book: roughing the passer, pass interference, un-sportsman like conduct, offside, personal foul and an illegal block to the head resulting in a severe concussion (helped along by a traitor on the team). Jesus endured everything the devil could throw at him but he revived and led his team to victory!
© 2017 Curtis W. Bond All rights reserved