Summary: Many NFL players achieved great success but never achieved the greatest, winning the Super Bowl. The aged Solomon reflects on the fact that he had huge success but was lacking the greatest.
Are you ready for some Carolina Panther’s football? Our first preseason game was Thursday night. A lot of sports analysts are predicting Carolina to once again be the NFC Champs and go to the Super Bowl, this time to win. We have the MVP and number one rated player in the NLF on our team in the person of Cam Newton. We have Kelvin Benjamin healthy this year. All the stars seem to be lining up for us to repeat our trip to the Super Bowl. But let’s review what happened last year in their 24 -10 loss to Denver.
Carolina had 10 more 1st downs than Denver. They gained 315 yards to Denver’s 194. Time of possession was 5 minutes more. But the negatives outweighed the positives by much more.
Carolina committed 4 turnovers, one of which was a fumble by Cam Newton in the end zone. Cam was sacked 7 times and hit 13 times. Less than half of his passes were completed. His receivers dropped numerous balls that should have been caught. The team was plagued by numerous penalties. Frustration seemed to settle in before the game was out of hand, leading to a lack luster performance. In the end they did not finish well.
Unfortunately our Christian walk can be like this. We can be living a life filled with victories and celebrations then suddenly an occurrence takes place that throws us for a loop. Maybe it’s a major appliance or our vehicle stops running. Or it could be something more major; a loss job, a sudden illness, a death of a loved one. Suddenly we are losing yardage. We fumble at an improper tune time. We feel the winning ball in our hands only to feel it slip away and hit the ground. We become frustrated and our faith wavers. The goal line of success seems unreachable.
Our opponent however rejoices in our failures. His plan is not to try to outdo us. His plan is to be on the defense. He is ready to jump on the ball when we fail in our Christian walk. He recovers our fumbles, our mistakes, and then accuses us of being failures. He reminds us at every opportunity of every time we failed to cross the goal line. It may be a whisper in our ears or a verbal reminder from someone around us. His approach is to discourage and frustrate us so that we will not desire to run with the ball again.
Or we miss that catch. An opportunity for advancement or an easier life is on our fingertips but it slips through and hit’s the ground or is taken by someone else. And we stand there, hands on our heads, wishing for a do-over.
Enough fumbles, interceptions, and penalties in life will drive us to the bench. We try to soothe ourselves with material things that give us a sense of worth. Some try to find solace in their careers. Some seek it in relationships. Some try to find it at the bottom of a bottle or a needle in the arm. Some decide the ultimate relief will only come with the end of life itself.
Occasionally the opposing team will take a penalty for themselves to gain an advantage. Our enemy will do the same. If more money will lead a believer away from God, he may open a pathway for that to happen. If an unhealthy relationship will misplace a relationship with our Father, that door may open. We must guard against easy paths and open doors to be sure they are within God’s will for us. Not everything that seems a blessing to us is a blessing.
Some of the greatest names in football finished lacking something. Players like Deacon Jones, know as the inventor of the quarterback sack. Barry Sanders, who gained over 1100 rushing yards per game in his first ten seasons. Eric Dickerson, who had the most rushing yards in a single season. O. J. Simpson, who holds the record for rushing over 2000 yards in the first 14 games of a season. Dan Marino, who had 17 games of passing for 400 or more yards. They had stellar careers but they ended lacking something. That one something was a Super Bowl win. No one could feel that lack greater than Jim Kelly, who lost 4 consecutive Super Bowls. Even our own Kevin Greene, who just entered the NFL Hall of Fame, never won that elusive Super Bowl.
They are many more to name that finished short of the ultimate prize. And today we will look at a man who fell short of that ultimate prize in his life despite having, what most would think, everything. In fact our NFL players may have felt like joining in with him and saying, “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2).