Here in Baltimore we are gearing up for the World Champion Baltimore Ravens (I love the sound of that) as they prepare to take the field to defend their crown. Also this evening I will attend a parents meeting for my son’s football league. The sound of football is in the air.
There is a saying in football that also applies to life: ”Forget The Last Play”.
I played Quarterback, Wide Receiver and Cornerback for most of the time I’ve ever played football. In each of these “skill” positions you are isolated out in the open and often find yourself making a play with very few other players nearby. Even the most casual fan usually knows when you have made a mistake. An overthrown ball can turn into an interception, a fumble can lead to a turnover or, as a defender, blown coverage can lead to the ball being thrown over your head and you’re last view is of the back of a jersey as the opponent crosses over the goal line to score. If you play the game of football very long you will certainly learn the agony found in each of those experiences.
This brings me to a quote that can help you in your day to day life: “Forget The Last Play”.
In your life you will have times when things do not work out. If you carry the ball of life long enough you are most certain to fumble at some point along your journey. If you work hard to protect your children and guide them on the right path there will be a day when you feel like you experienced blown coverage and the enemy tossed something evil over your head. In the game of life there will be days when you give up points.
Sometimes as Christians we can fall into the trap to believe that when a Christian is in a battle there is nothing to be found on the battlefield but victory. Sometimes we feel that the way life is supposed to happen is that every time we pick up a sword you are sure to conquer the enemy. The reality to the Christian life is a lot less glamourous. There are days when you simply fall short. You fail. You fumble. You allow the opposition to score.
What do you do in days like these?
You must learn to “Forget The Last Play”.
If you are in a skill position on the football field you will often hear a coach tell you to “Forget The Last Play” and “Have a short term memory.” I would augment my coaches advice in this way:
”Have a short term memory and a long term vision.”
When you give up a big play in an important game you will find that your memory becomes your enemy. When the game is on the line and you know that you made a mistake you will have two options. You can either choose to dwell on how bad of a play you made or you can “Forget The Last Play” and refocus on what is in front of you. The Apostle Paul says it this way to the church at Philippi.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. – Philippians 3
But one thing I do…
Paul knew that he wasn’t going to get it right all of the time. In the proceeding 11 sentences he spoke of this glorious way to live where he viewed himself connected completely with Christ and His righteousness. Those verses would get any preacher a resounding “Amen” from the choir but the reality of life is that more times than not we will fail. We will make a mistake. We will be less than our best before God and people we love. What do we do in those times? What do you do when your best efforts to simply live in Christ fall short. You “Forget The Last Play”.
You will find in your life that there are some people who love to place your life on replay. They absolutely love to put your mistake on High Definition Television and use their remote control to rewind, slow down and zoom in to your error. Like a Monday morning quarterback, you have people in your life who think that they are doing a service to humanity to rewind and replay your biggest blunders. You can allow them to do that or you can move forward in faith.
You may have people in your life who want to relive the failures of those who hurt you. They mean well but they tend to replay the details of an incident where you were harmed. They will drag up the event and say “He really did you wrong.” ”He shouldn’t have done that to you.” ”I can’t believe people like that guy.” These friends think they are helping you but they are in fact stunting your growth because as long as you are living in yesterday you have no capacity to live for tomorrow.
Take the advice of the football coach from Anytown, USA and just “Forget The Last Play”. Take the advice of the Apostle Paul and not only forget what is behind but strain toward what is ahead. God has a great plan for your life. God created you, designed you uniquely and placed you on this planet during this season for a specific purpose. Don’t spend your days pondering your worst yesterdays. Instead, spend your life looking forward to your forever future. If you’re not dead, you’re not done. God still has you in the game and as long as you are in the game you have a chance to make the next great play. To move on to your next great play you just have to “Forget The Last Play” and move forward in faith.