As those who know me are aware, I am not a sports fan. Every now and again, though, I get caught up in a game my husband and/or sons are watching. This fall, I became mildly interested in Michigan State football because my son attends school there and I was happy they earned a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. I only watched maybe five minutes of the actual game, but I rooted for them from afar as I worked on my computer and eventually laid myself down to sleep.
After the game ended, my son came to my bedroom and informed me Michigan State had won in the last 30 seconds of the game. I wanted to see that last play, but sleep won over curiosity. The next morning, I watched the clip of those final seconds. What I saw brought tears to my eyes. Seriously.
Michigan State, up to those last 30 or so seconds was losing the game. They needed to score. The quarterback started the play and handed the ball to the running back, L.J. Scott. Only a few yards, stood between him and victory. He ran to the right looking for an opening. However, as he ran, Iowa defenders blocked his way until eventually they caught him just shy of the goal line. When it looked to me like he was not going to break through their grip, he spins around with Iowa’s defenders clutching his body and stretches his body and arm with the ball across the goal line. Touchdown! Game won!
At that moment, I had nothing but love and admiration for the freshman running back. His determination and strength blew me away. But more than anything, his ability to focus in the midst of being surrounded by numerous Iowa defenders deeply moved me. My perception was that he was not discouraged or distracted by the blocks in his way or the defenders holding his body. His focus was on getting that ball across the line and winning the game. He did not give in.
What quickly came to mind is how many of us, in our efforts to succeed at whatever endeavor we are pursuing, fall into discouragement or get distracted by the obstacles, hindrances, roadblocks, and/or naysayers. Some of us are so close. So close to victory. So close to winning. So close to overcoming. So close to grasping what we have worked so hard for. Yet, just as in this game, the closer we get, the more intense the enemy gets. He doesn’t want us to have victory. He wants us to hold our heads down in defeat.
Oh that we would be like L. J. Scott and just stay focused on getting across that line. If only we would not give in to the opposition we are facing, but PRESS through it and do whatever we can to reach the goal. If only we would keep our eyes on the prize and not the obstacles. We may have to stretch ourselves (i.e. be uncomfortable, do things we wouldn’t normally) to get there, but as this young man has shown us, it can be done.
Lord give us the strength, determination and focus to cross the goal line.