The Value of Not Giving Up

If you live in the Midwest, hopefully you watched the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, December 17th. It was the game that the NFL is calling “Largest Comeback in NFL History.” If this highlight reel is still available on YouTube, I implore you to watch it, because in it are some valuable lessons we can learn as Christians.

Recap of the Game

Just in case in the future that the replay is taken off YouTube, let’s see what happened those amazing four quarters.

The game starts off with the Vikings getting pummeled and hammered by the Colts. The first quarter ends with the Colts leading the Vikings 17 to 0 after a field goal and a disastrous punt return deflection with led to a touchdown and extra point. The Vikings were visibly shaken and enter the second quarter,17 points down.

Things get even worse in the second quarter for Minnesota. Field goal after field goal, including a touchdown and extra point, the Vikings trail the Colts with a 33 point deficit. No matter what they did to try to move the ball up the field, they had setback after setback. In the confusion, mistakes were made, anger set in, and no matter what they did they could not get points on the board. It seemed hopeless.

Just over eight minutes into the third quarter, Cousins throws a pass into the corner of the end zone to A.J. Osborne for touchdown just after a fantastic run in. Fans instantly woke up and there was still some hope even though they were down 26 points. No shut-out today as fans were on their feet cheering and giving high-fives.

But, even though the Colts were on top by a long shot, they scored a 52 yard field goal; the crowed hushed, adding three more points to the disheartening deficit. The camera panned over to the Minnesota Vikings coach as he seemed to be the only one calm and collected on the sidelines.

Then with 1:07 left in the third quarter after several pressing drives, the Vikings scored another touchdown as Ham struggles and fights his way through a powerful defense, not giving up, to score another touchdown. After the extra point, the score is 36 to 14 in favor of the Indianapolis Colts. It was at this time I joined in cheering with the Minnesota fans wanting them so badly to win this game. You could tell that the Colts were extremely confident, even cocky at times knowing they had the game in the bag at the end of the third quarter.

At the start of the fourth quarter the crowd was on fire even though their home team was down by 22 points. They were not giving up yet, and neither was their team. With several short drives and steady press, Jefferson scores another 6 for Minnesota, decreasing the deficit needed to tie the game. With the extra point, the score was 36 to 21, the Colts still leading. I’m sure by now the coach was wondering about that extra point that was needed to tie the game if it got to that point.

At this time, the Colts weren’t as cocky as they started. But that was about to change with just over 8 minutes left. Cuzzins threw a bomb into the end zone to gain some quick points, but right into the opposing team’s hands. The crowd went quiet, and the Colts regained their eagerness to end this game.

Thankfully, the Colts didn’t answer back with any extra points the Vikings needed already. With 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, Minnesota scores again with another touchdown and extra point. The crowd goes crazy and the score: 36 to 28, everyone on their feet. The whole stadium was electrified.

At 3:23 left, the Colts clearly fumbled the ball as a run up the middle was stopped by the home team; the ball scooped up by Sullivan, of the Vikings and trotted into the end zone. The crowd went nuts!!! But what should have been a 36 / 34 game was still separated by 8 points as the touchdown was called back. The fans and the announcers saw it. It was a clear fumble, but not so for the Ref. This wasn’t the only play that was called back on him as Sullivan rips off his helmet fuming as he challenged the call.

Minnesota not giving up after that tragic call, they pressed on and then scored a little over a minute later with 2:15 left in the time. Dalvin Cook catches and runs 64 yards, defeating tackle after grab and everything coming after him. The score was 36 to 34. The Vikings coach makes the call — go for two points. And they did! Cousins threw to T.J. Hockenson and tied the game! The crowd went absolutely crazy. The whole stadium sounded like the game winning touchdown of the Superbowl. It was incredible.

By now each team pressed very hard to score points with the remaining time left. But the Vikings managed to tie the game at 36 and still had overtime to conquer. Each team having chances to score, but no avail although fighting as if their lives depended on it. Then, down to the wire with 5 seconds left, Vikings Kicker, Sullivan, made an amazing 40 yard field goal ending the game 39 to 36 winning the victory. What an amazing game.

Lessons to be learned

Now, this article isn’t about football, even though until this point it has been; it is the value of not giving up. Everything seemed to be against the Vikings, yet they still won. There are some lessons to be learned that we as Christians can learn from, and at the very least use as an example of what is taught in Scripture.

Don’t look at the scoreboard

When you are playing a game and down by a significant amount, you always have that urge to look overhead at that constant neon reminder of by how much. What is the scoreboard in the Christian’s life? It is what we make it out to be. We look around at other people and how their ministries are doing. They seem to have it all together, doing well, and even thriving; yet I am still struggling to make it, people don’t know who I am, and I have no books written while this other guy just finished his fifth one. It’s so easy to judge how we are doing against other people.

The truth is we really don’t know what they had to do to get to where they are. Even more than that, they may not be doing good as you think they are. I’ve known some authors that on the surface things look fantastic, but their marriages are falling apart, their kids are disobedient brats, and suicidal. Some are taking anti-depressants where others are addicted to alcohol. There are some authors who hire a ghostwriter for $50K and some notes and they whip up a book.

The races that Paul talks about are the races in which we are not competing against other people, but ourselves.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV

Because in the reality of it all, most of us are our own worst enemy.

Stand fast in the Lord

When things look at their worst, we are told in Scripture to stand fast. To stand in the Lord and be immoveable. That’s what the Viking’s defense did.

Stand fast in the Greek Lexicon (Strong’s G4739) it states: to stand firm, to persevere, to persist, to keep one’s standing. Jesus didn’t tell us to stop when things were at their worst. He told us to stand. Not to stand around and contemplate our navels, but to stand fast.

As Christians we are made to stand, and able to stand through the power of God (Romans 14:4). We are told in Scripture to watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave and strong (1 Corinthians 16:13). Most importantly, we are to stand fast and firm in the Lord and in the power of His might (Galatians 5:1; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8).

Keep moving forward

But, part of standing fast in the faith is persevering, and we are also told to move forward. The Apostle Paul pulls no punches when describing to the Philippians what true saving faith is like:

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Philippians 1:27-30 NKJV

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to other people (Mark 16:15); make fishers of men (Mark 1:17); seek the Lord where He may be found (Isaiah 55:6; Acts 17:27). These are action verbs and we as Christians are called to action, not sit on the bench or the sidelines. Throughout the book of John the word believe was synonymous with action. Believing in a parachute is not holding on to it before jumping out of a crashing plane — you have to put it on.

Continue to work as a team.

In football, your enemy is not your teammates. So is your enemy not your brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to continue to work as a team, and in that effort we will see victory. Each of us has skills, gifts, and talents; and how we use those to glorify Christ and to see others saved. Getting angry and pointing fingers does not help the cause of Christ.

Each of us has a position to play in the family of God. Not all can be Quarterbacks or Wide Receivers. Some need to block and take hits, while others give them.

We also need to remember that there are players that never are seen, those on the sideline giving water, stretching out players, and even doing math like accountants. Those in the booth watching over helping to make plays and paying attention to every detail. It’s when we work together as a team is when we can win.

We all start off the same — with nothing.

Just as in football, the score always starts at 0-0. We enter this world with nothing, and we leave with nothing. When you become a Christian, you start at zero. You are a new creature in Christ. Old things have passed away, and have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your sins are washed away clean. From this moment on, you strive down the field of battle getting hit, making strides, to reach the goal and be victorious.

It doesn’t matter how we start; what matters is how we finish.

Therefore, since we all start at 0-0, it doesn’t matter how we start, but how we finish that counts. Hero’s are not made by giving up the fight. Hero’s don’t lay down their weapons and retreat. They continue to fight to the finish. It’s hard, difficult, and never easy. Unlike football players, we don’t go to the locker room and take our pads off. We are constantly in the fight and on the field.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints–

– Ephesians 6:13-18 NKJV

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