Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crossing the Goal Line

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."

-- John 14:6
His name was Roy Riegels. But for college football history buffs, he's forever remembered by his nickname, Wrong Way.

In the 1929 Rose Bowl, Riegels--who played center for the University of California Golden Bears--picked up his teammate's fumble on the Georgia Tech 30-yard line. But instead of simply falling on the ball or moving it forward, Riegels turned around and dashed 69 yards in the wrong direction toward his own team's end zone. Golden Bear quarterback Benny Lonn finally caught up to his confused teammate at the 3-yard line and tried to turn him around. But it was too late, and the Georgia Tech defense swarmed over Riegels and tackled him just in front of his own team's end zone.

The result? Riegels and his team ended up losing the game 8-7 while opponent Georgia Tech claimed their second national championship. After his infamous play, Riegels was in despair.

"Coach," he said, "I can't do it. I've ruined you, I've ruined myself, I've ruined the University of California. I couldn't face that crowd to save my life."

"Roy," responded California Head Coach Nibs Price, "Get up and go back out there--the game is only half over."

That's good advice for anyone who's made a wrong turn or two in life--which means all of us. As Christ-followers, Jesus forgives us of our sins and put us back in the right direction. But there are some things we should do to help avoid the missteps that can turn us around and hinder our faith journey.

First, never walk alone. We may think we have everything under control and can take the trip by ourselves. But God never meant for so-called Lone Ranger Christians. Instead, we should be in regular worship and fellowship with other Christ-followers. And when we do meet with other believers, it must be in a spirit a truth--and in the daylight. That means without deception or sin. We also need to agree on a map for our journey, which happens to be God's Word: the Bible. Once we're headed out, we should also expect some bumps along the way. Yes, there will be stretches along smooth roads with beautiful scenery. But there will also be potholes, steep hills and rough terrain. And finally--and most importantly--we need to trust our Guide. And who better knows The Way? Jesus--who was literally God in the flesh--has already gone before us and is the only One who ever lived a perfect, sin-free life.

Have you gotten lost or turned the wrong way along your faith journey? If so, you're in good join the crowd. And then follow Jesus.

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