Leave It All on the Field
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Has anyone here ever played competitive sports? I’ve played baseball, softball and basketball in my past. I’ve also played quite a few games of foosball in my day, only not in bars and such. If you have ever played in such team sports, you can quickly recollect your coach or a player who was key in helping secure wins and positive experiences.
I am by no means a football-knowledgeable guy, but as I was working around here yesterday, my mind went to the gridiron. I want to begin this by pointing out that I’ve never attempted understanding a playbook, and frankly, the play names sound like Greek to me. But here are my thoughts. Two people are typically key to success on the field. The first one, if you haven’t guessed it, is the quarterback. The other person is the defensive captain.
Now the defensive captain is a powerhouse. It doesn’t matter if the guy plays the line, a linebacker, or back at safety. If he has earned the role of leader, you can plan on intensity and physical … togetherness if you are on the opposite side of the ball. But here’s the thing: his goal on the field is to protect his own goal line at all costs and get the ball back to his offense. If he pumps his teammates up enough, there may be successes that result in scores, but his objective is to protect and put a hurting on as many people as he can.
Now let’s observe from the church-house our quarterback. Though you may not realize it, he is the one the team counts on for success. He touches the ball on just about, if not every single offensive play. He takes the call from the sideline and sets the team. He studies the defense to see if there is a weakness to exploit or if there may be a blitz coming his way. He has to block out all distractions and focus on the matter at hand: making successful executions in plays in order to score. Team has no I’s in it, but he is the one who orchestrates the game plan that has turned in a coaches mind.
We have a great legacy left for us in those who have gone on before us in the faith. We have a great playbook to study and live by in the Word of God. But you see, there are those who push their way into the circle of witnesses that Paul is talking about here. There are those who simply put their own thoughts and reasoning behind and seek out with perseverance Jesus Christ. Mary did it while Martha did the work. John leaned on Jesus while others handled day-to-day life. In our world, many who would have that heart would be called suck-ups. But you know what? Those who make an audience with the coach are those willing to leave it all on the field.
Leaving it all on the field takes a special person. Let me say as we even begin this though process in your mind that you are special. We made a point last week of how fearfully and wonderfully made you are. To leave it all on the field means that everything within you sees the goal at the end of the game and is willing to make every effort to attain that goal. Only those with the ability to make the play are left on the field.
I know I read this scripture here lately, but listen to what it says:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
I don’t see there any reference to losers in this race. The key is to keep running. If we quit running, then we have disqualified ourselves. But we are to be like Forrest Gump. Just run, and when you reach this place or marker along the way, turn and run some more. Can you hear ‘ole Mick yelling at Rocky to GET UP!!!
Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
The Holy Spirit was sent from the portals of glory just for this purpose. He continually stays in our ear driving us on. Get up!!! You can do it!!! Have faith!!! Praise God!!! Be still for a moment!!! He is our spiritual coach that motivates us and that we fear. There are times that he needs only softly prod, but there are also times that he must get in our face and yell from the top of his lungs. Throughout life, he is there are a constant reminder and advisor for our next step. Sometime he must put us through things that may not feel good or things we don’t understand. Somehow, though, in the end, we look back and realize what we just accomplished through his direct coaching.
But understand this: the Holy Spirit is leading us to Jesus Christ with everything within him. His passion billows out in everything he advises us to do. His devotion to the Father and the Son is undeniable. Everything about him drives us on. We can only see what lies directly ahead. He sees the result of our labor. Can you hear him prodding you now to leave it all on the field?
There are those who are looking to you for guidance and reason. There are those who will give everything if they only see you leading the way. You may not be the quarterback of the team, but you are a quarterback to someone in your family, at work, or in your neighborhood.
But sometimes we lose focus. Galatians 5:7 says, You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
Don’t allow anything to get in your way. Let this be a wakeup call for you. If you have once ran a good race, then that means you know how to do it. You may have lost focus, but you know the steps it takes to get back on track. The coach may need to put you through some trials and tests to bring you back into complete, true focus, but be sure he will work on you. You are the best God has to accomplish those things he made you for. Only you can do what you can do.
Don’t underestimate what the Holy Spirit is doing outside our natural realm. He gives you gifts, which is another entire sermon in itself. He points you to Jesus. He strengthens you. He comforts you. But he motivates you to keep on running.
I cry every time I see this. I don’t want you to just watch a clip. I want you to put the Spirit of God in the place of the coach. I want you to put yourself in Brock’s shoes. You may even fit into the shoes of Jeremy or one of the other players, or coaches for that matter, who watch this unfold. But what I ask is that you feel the intensity, understand for a brief moment the passion behind why the coach in there on the field. Let this affect your life as it does me.
Did you watch as all the players not chosen laughed and had fun at Brock’s expense? Did you see how the players stood in amazement as Brock pushed himself? They had no personal connection to the battle at hand in that moment, but they were emotionally drawn to the event that was taking place. There were levels of connection as Brock continued down the field, but in the end, they all were on their feet walking towards the goal line. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes you want to stop and rest, but Jesus wants your best. He calls out to you to negotiate with your body and mind to make his will happen. Jesus is not so much above you to not get on the ground and crawl with you. His passion for your soul draws you to him until that moment when you finish. Jesus He wants to hear those words said to you, well done. He wants you to one-day say as Paul did…
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.