The 2016 NFL season is upon us. As you watch your favorite team compete with their rivals I would like to direct your attention to one particular group of people who make that game (and every other football contest) possible.
They are commonly referred to as the “chain gang”. These are the assistants to the official linesman who are responsible for measuring the forward progress of the ball between first down conversions. From the time a team receives possession of the ball, to the time they gain another first down, score, turn the ball over, punt or forfeit possession, this crew measures the distance the ball is advanced down the field. For every ten yards of forward progress, another first down is awarded.
Their measurements, are critical to both teams. And theirs is not an easy task, especially when you consider that they are working on a surface which covers about 48,000 square feet (100 yards from goal line to goal line, by 53.3 yards across).
Despite their important role, the members of the chain gang seldom receive much attention. Consider how seldom you see their faces. Usually the camera zooms in on the ball and the chain in such a way that all you see of the chain gang are their feet and legs.
But the work they do........now that is a different story. Without an accurate measurement of how far the ball has advanced all the efforts of the players and coaches would be of little importance. But, thanks to the work of the chain gang that progress can be measured and celebrated by players and fans alike. The progress of the ball toward the goal line is the central issue in the game of football.
In this sense, the game of football is a lot like life. Life is all about celebrating our forward progress, as we advance toward our goals.
The Bible gives us some important counsel to keep in mind as we measure our progress toward life’s most important goal:
1) Give careful consideration to the standard of measure which you select.
In Second Corinthians 10:12 the apostle Paul warns against measuring our progress by merely comparing ourselves with others: “When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”
Being a little bit better than the next guy is not God’s goal for my life. God wants me and you to become like his Son. He wants us to imitate the example of Jesus. Measure your progress in life by how well you are following Jesus’ example.
2) Celebrate the yardage already gained, but don’t grow so content that you abandon the drive at midfield.
In Philippians 3:13 the apostle Paul describes his own attitude toward past progress: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, I strain toward what is ahead...”
We cannot rest on the laurels of our past accomplishments. We must stay focused on today’s opportunities and be prepared for tomorrow’s possibilities.
3) Never take your eyes off the goal.
Philippians 3:14 continues Paul’s thought from the previous verse: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.
My prayer is that you and I will keep pressing on toward the goal to become more and more like Jesus each day, faithfully serving Him as we reach out to others in his name.
May you and all those He is using you to reach enjoy the warmth of His love and the joy of His fellowship now and throughout all eternity.
-Written by Gary Finley, Director of Development @ IDES