Yesterday I watched an historic football game. I watched one of the greatest Quarterbacks in the history of the NFL set an important record, and then get pulled from the game because he was having the worst game of his career.
The Denver Broncos were hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. Peyton Manning entered the game only a few yards away from passing Brett Favre as the most prolific Quarterback in NFL history. He easily set the record. Upon reaching the 71,389 yard mark, they stopped the game and made a big deal out of what was certainly a big deal.
Manning came out of college a year late. In other words, he stayed at the University of Tennessee for his senior year, even though he was already a Heisman trophy candidate, and one of the top draft picks coming out of his junior year. He said he loved the college experience and wanted to enjoy it another year. He finished his illustrious career holding 42 NCAA, SEC and Tennessee records. He won the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Player of the Year honors his senior season, securing his All-America status in 1997. He became the fourth in NCAA history to pass for 11,000 yards and threw for more than 300 yards in 18 games. He finished with 11,201 yards as Tennessee's most prolific offensive player in leading the Vols to the 1997 SEC championship.
It was no surprise that he threw for 300 yards in his first game as an NFL Quarterback... but leading the league in passing in his first two seasons? Well, that was pretty special. Even as a rookie, most football nerds knew that this one was special. He was certainly not the most athletic QB to ever step onto the field, but he was one of the smartest, and arguably the most studious. He wa a game film geek, spending more hours watching opposing defenses than some coaches. By the time he took the first snap, he was literally the most knowledgeable player on the field... and perhaps on the sidelines. This enabled him to over the course of his career set multiple NFL records, including throwing for more yards than any other QB ever. As of yesterday, Peyton Manning has thrown for over 40 miles. Think about that. He has completed passes for over 40 miles.
But yesterday... he only threw for 35 yards. How bad is that? It was his worst game ever. He only completed 5 passes out of 20 attempts. The Kansas City Kicker had as many field goals as Manning had completions. Oh... and did I mention that Manning threw 4 interceptions? It is a bad day when you complete almost as many passes to the other team as you do your own. After his fourth interception at the beginning of the second half, his coach replaced him with a guy named Brock Osweiler. You've probably never heard of Osweiler. But he will always go down as the guy who replaced Peyton Manning when Manning was yanked from the game... the game where he set one of the most coveted NFL records.
Isn't that life sometimes? The day you finally achieve something, you also fall flat on your face. You're receiving an award for competency and you lose your car keys on the way out the door. You get a raise, and you lose your wallet. You get married, and you forget your spouse's name. You make a decision to surrender your life to Christ, and then you mess up by falling to that life-long temptation. Or how about this... you are going to give your life for the sins of the world, and one of your closest friends betrays you, and another denies he knows you. In fact, after pouring into the lives of 12 men for 3 years, they all abandon you at some level in your moment of need.
Certainly that wasn't the fault of Jesus. And some of our moments of disappointment aren't our fault. But they can be. You can live your life to great success, and on the day you achieve that goal, you can't seem to tie your shoes. In that moment, you can choose to quit, or go forward.
King David had a couple of such moments. After an impressive run as a faithful shepherd, valiant warrior, and great king, he ended up committing adultery and orchestrating the murder of the woman's husband. On the day of reckoning, I'm sure he didn't feel like a faithful shepherd, valiant warrior, or great king. I'm sure he felt like he wanted to die. But God was not finished with him, and would not define him by his failures. He would end up restoring the repentant and broken man. But here is part of the prayer David made as part of his 'comeback'...
God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.
Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart. (Psalm 51:10-17)
Scripture calls David, 'a man after God's own heart.' God knew David's best days and worst days. But David was defined by his pursuit of God. God loved David despite his failures, and without regard to his natural successes. That is a great truth for you today. Perhaps your best day will be your worst day. But God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And your relationship with Him can go forward if you proceed in repentance and confidence that He is not done with you, and you are not done with the mission.
Peyton Manning will always remember yesterday. His haters will always remember yesterday. But history will basically forget it. You will be able to find it on the internet, but it will never define him. Don't let a bad game define your career. Seek God. Surrender to Him. Succeed with Him.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.