1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)
24 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. 25 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. 26 Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
A couple years back the NFL produced a commercial which featured a number of ecstatic coaches where they were celebrating tomorrow. They will be all overjoyed about tomorrow, why, you may ask, some of you may know, but they day after the Super Bowl everyone is undefeated. The day the Super Bowl passes is a day of celebration for the champions, but also marks the day the season begins. Every team around the league starts their season at that precise moment. The planning begins and the teams who did not wintry to pinpoint how they can reach this point, It is everyone’s goal to get to the championship game and win their prize. For some franchises, winning a championship is like clockwork, while others even making the playoffs is a major victory. We see this in all sports, look at March Madness the world loves the underdog.
Remaining with the football theme in 1991 the Green Bay Packers hired a personnel man by the name of Ron Wolf. He was brought in from the Oakland Raiders with a strong reputation for developing the Raiders. Wolf was given control of all personnel decisions and quickly began to go to work. Wolf’s first major move was to remove Lindy Infante as the head coach of the Packers and hire the 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren. Holmgren was known for his success in developing quarterbacks, and was about to get one of his biggest challenges yet. That challenge was not immediately present when Holmgren took over.
Much like your life long faith building a championship contender is a journey and along the way you find the pieces to the puzzle. While Ron Wolf may have had his coach he was still miles from the finish line. After doing his homework and looking around his vision lead to one of his biggest, rolling the dice on a quarterback out of Southern Mississippi. Most of us know this story, but Ron had his prize in mind. He took a gamble and offered a 1st round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for their backup quarterback who was taken in the 2nd round one year earlier. This was the defining moment of Wolf’s career, had this quarterback not panned out, he would have been rushed out of town, and the Packers history would have never been the same. However, he saw the potential that the young gunslinger had, and was fascinated by his arm strength. Wolf placed his faith in a young quarterback Brett Favre, and his young coach to make his team a contender. It would not be long before Brett Favre would get his chance the Packers starter would get injured and the rest would be history.
The puzzle had its edges laid out, but it was not complete, Green Bay was still a dead zone for free agents, but Wolf was dauntless in his quest to win. Wolf went shopping and landed himself one of the greatest defensive players of all time in Reggie White. White was the last big piece as he solidified their defense. The Packers landed their guy and suddenly other players wanted to go to Green Bay as well. Along with White came Gilbert Brown a powerful run stopper. Santana Dotson and Sean Jones followed. The core of the Packers defense was built and the Packers started winning. Finally, on January 26, 1997, the Packers were in the big game and won. The championship drought in Green Bay had ended and the Lombardi Trophy was coming home to Titletown. The moves Wolf made not only made the Packers a success during his run with the Packers, but set the foundation for the Packers to continue their success to the present day.
Ron Wolf ran towards the prize, and sometimes that takes risks. Like the championship is a prize for a sports team, eternal life and God’s love is the prize for us. If we continue to search ways to serve him and honor him we can one day hoist our personal trophy which will supersede any earthly possession. Wolf had focus and it took time for the Packers to win. However, with due diligence the Packers became contenders leading to Wolf’s eventual induction to the Hall of Fame. We cannot look at life as a meaningless, but as an ever going race to the finish line. God’s grace is waiting for us at the finish line and we all can win. We can all share the joy of making it to his kingdom. While we may take risks we must always trust that God will have our best interest. While the moves may not seem like they make sense at the time we all need to take a chance and trade for a Favre.
We need to find ways to make sure the sure things are taken in to open the door for more opportunities. The Packers were not an overnight success, it was a little over six years from the day Wolf was hired before he cross the finish line with his Packers. It took a almost three years after the addition of Reggie White, and over five after adding Brett Favre. Along the way we will take our lumps, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize. While it may not seem like things are going your way winds can change if we keep our faith in God somewhat like Ron Wolf kept his faith in his plan. Each year leading up to their Super Bowl win the Packers progressively got better. This is how we should view life and make each day progressively better. We must do things the right way and one day we will be with God in His kingdom.
Heavenly Father, We thank You for making today possible and allowing us to have a prize. We thank You for Your son’s sacrifice so that we can have something to strive for. Lord, thank You for giving us a finish line to seek. While things may look tough to be with us always so that we can stay on track. Allow us always to have faith in your plan so that we can achieve incredible things in your name. This we pray to You in Jesus Name, Amen!