Just Ten Yards.
I hear this two ways:
As a mocker questioning, “Just ten yards??” As an encouraging coach, “Just ten yards.”
Which one do you hear? Today, I want you to hear the second one.
RUNNING, Matt and I often pass by our 97 year old neighbor walking. This man walks at least five days a week. We passed by him in the very beginning of our run and then after 2.5 miles, we passed him again at the end of our run. He had walked maybe 2 football fields in the time we had run 2.5 miles. Some might say he moves at a snail’s pace, but I thought, “Man he’s doing good! At least he’s out here grinding!” I started to think about football. And I get how a lot of people like the big plays. It’s exciting to watch a guy run on a punt return and the long throws for a touchdown are fun to watch, but it’s the “one yard at a time” grind that I appreciate. It takes 10 yards for a first down- and sometimes it takes all four downs to get just ten yards. It can be painful and grueling to get just ten yards. It seems like a short distance, but in football, it can be the longest 10 yards of your life.
I see the running back grinding it out to get just a few yards that’s a greater representation of real life. Oh sure, sometimes you get a big play and instant success, and people will cheer your name, but it’s the grind that really defines us. In my life, I haven’t had many big plays. I’ve taken over ground yard by yard. Its the mundane, day to day, keeping going, don’t quit work that produces the greatest harvest. One of my favorite Scriptures is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 NKJV
The running back is one of the most high-profile offensive positions on a football team. And it’s also one of the most demanding. Many dream of being a great running back in the NFL, but very few are able to make it to that level, and even fewer last for a while once they do. In fact, the average playing career length of running backs in the NFL is only 2.57 years, compared to the league average of 3.3 years.
While it may not seem like much of a difference at first, that’s quite the monumental drop-off in career average from the league norm.
But why do running backs not last that long at the NFL level?
There are many contributing factors, but the main reason often cited for this is the fact that running backs take a beating on just about every play.
A featured running back on a team may handle the ball anywhere from 15 to 30 times per game, between the times he carries the ball and catches the ball as a receiver. And on just about every one of those plays, he will absorb a hit from a defender.
Even if the play ends in the running back going out of bounds or scoring a touchdown, it’s likely a defender made contact with him. And even if he escapes without being touched at all, he likely made plenty of sudden cuts that’d cause wear on tear on his knees, hips, ankles, and feet.
In addition to being the target of all 11 defenders on the field when he touches the ball, a running back is also responsible for picking up rushing defenders and blocking them on certain pass plays.
Most great running backs will have a set of traits and skills that set them apart from other players at other positions. Here are some of what makes a great running back.
5 Running Back Traits
1. Running Backs Have Great Vision
Just like quarterbacks, running backs have to constantly scan the field to identify opportunities and pick up responsibilities. Unlike a quarterback, though, running backs need to do this while running in crowds.
A running back must have great vision to be able to see gaps in the defense. Sometimes, these gaps are less than a yard wide, and they can sometimes close quickly. That’s why a running back must be able to scan the field using his peripheral vision to identify these holes to run through.
How’s your vision? Can you see the deception that is taking place in the world and in the church? Many cannot, it is business as usual. Some are choosing to remain ignorant. We are in a time of great deception and apostasy. Many are falling away from Biblical truth. There are false teachers and preachers everywhere teaching false doctrine. These false teachers are being seen as ministers of light and half the church is blind to this deception. This is a sign of the end times.
Ps Cary made a movie titled: “Enemies Within the Church” and it exposes mush of the false doctrine in the church. It is well made, well delivered and is a truthful, Biblical account. I have watched it twice- it is Biblically sound. Now, I know people (pastors included) who won’t watch it because they do not like how Ps Cary ministers and because this movie exposes organizations that were once Christian but are no longer Christian. First of all, you do not even know him, and secondly, you are a hypocrite because you watch movies that you love from worthless and wicked producers; and thirdly, you are willfully ignorant. It is foolishness to bury your head in the sand. You lack eyes to see what is going on within the church.
Now more than ever, we need eyes to see!
Matthew 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Spiritual vision, like spiritual hearing, is a must. The lukewarm church needed eye salve because they were blind to their apathetic state. This is Jesus speaking to Christian, lukewarm believers, who thought they were OK, but they were spiritually blind. Laodicea- judgment of the people
Revelation 3:18I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.
The Word of God brings clarity so that we may see clearly. It is the mirror that exposes our sins and wrong thoughts. So we look into God’s Word and we have a choice: stay the same or change. When we are presented with truth- we can repent and receive truth or we can remain willfully ignorant. People do not like the Word because God has a standard for His people- standards for men, women, marriage, our walk, standards for forgiveness and how we treat others. WE don’t like standards and we don’t like boundaries. Let the Lord give us eye cream so we can see, or choose to remain ignorant, blind and decieved.
2. Running Backs Have Great Instincts
It’s next to impossible for a running back to truly see the entire field, especially as he’s trying to wade his way through big bodies that are trying to attack him and trying to block for him.
That’s why he must have great instincts to know where to go without actually seeing it. This is one of those traits that can’t be taught or coached, and it’s a skill that a player will acquire overtime after playing the position for a while and experiencing game action. Knowing where to go if you don’t see an opening is almost as important as seeing a hole in the first place.
Christians should be the wisest people on this earth. But unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Matthew 10:16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless[a] as doves.
Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the [a]oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are [b]of full age, that is, those who by reason of [c]use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Who by reason of use meaning “through custom.”, “habit, practice.” The meaning is, that by long use and habit they had arrived to that state in which we can discern what is of God and what is not of God. This ONLY comes through habitual practice, over time and use. The reference is to experienced Christians, who by long experience are able to distinguish what is useful and good instruction from what is evil. It refers to discerning right doctrines and true teachings.
Have their senses exercised- The phrase means “the internal sense,” the faculty of perceiving truth.
The meaning is, that by long and disciplined experience Christians come to be able to carefully and accurately distinguish good doctrine from error. They will appreciate and understand what is true; they will reject what is false. Many in the church are falling away from sound doctrine for a failure to exercise discernment. They refuse to see where to run therefore they have no knowledge of the right way.
This is not about age- Timothy was a young pastor, perhaps only 19 when Paul placed him over the Ephesian church.
2 Timothy 2:15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
This discernment is for whosoever will. You cannot be lazy, but diligent. This is not about studying to argue with someone- but studying the Word of God to see clearly what is of God and what is evil.
3. Running Backs Are Elusive
Remember, a running back gets beat up on almost every play. Even the most powerful running backs need to be able to avoid these hits and tackles. In fact, avoiding tackles is a running back’s primary job once he touches the ball. In order to make defenders miss, great running backs will employ a number of different moves, including a stutter step, hurdle, stiff arm, spin move, or juke. All of these moves require a combination of quickness, speed, power, and agility. Most great running backs will develop their go-to moves over time as they figure out how they can be most successful at remaining upright.
BE sober- this means keep yourself free from any intoxicants that mar your ability to see or hear clearly. It is a strict abstinence of anything that inebriates. Guard against the lusts and passions of the flesh.
Be vigilant- this means it requires immediate attention. Cover your crack. Do not leave yourself exposed to the enemy. Repent of all sins, including “pet” sins. Do not let pride creep in. Like high blood pressure, pride is the silent killer. I could tell you story after story of men who fell through pride. Some repented. Some have not. In fact, God is resisting you if you are prideful. Grace comes ONLY to the humble.
Bring your heart continually before the Lord for cleansing. Keep your thought life pure. You will NEVER have the victory if you do not control your thoughts! The mind is the battlefield and many of you are letting the enemy have free range in your head. Take every thought captive.
The enemy seeks, like a predator, the weakest sheep.
He is roaring- this implies he is hungry and determined. Do not give the devil too much credit, but consider him a worthy and cunning adversary.
He picks of those who separate from the herd. He goes after the youngest in age and in the faith. This is why baby Christians and those who have been struck hard by the enemy need to keep themselves constantly in the body. “I was am going through something” The enemy works overtime in isolation. Many of you should know by now how to juke out the enemy, and stiff arm him for we should not be ignorant of his devices.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
See, some of you cannot resist the devil because you are not submitted to God. Submission is safety.
4. Running Backs Are Durable
A running back can only be a good contributor to his team if he’s on the field. If he’s consistently missing plays or games because he’s hurt, then it’ll be hard for him to become great. While running backs will do everything they can to avoid getting hit, it’s next to impossible to go an entire game at the position without getting hit. A running back must be able to absorb those hits and keep getting back up — over and over again.
Rocky Balboa said this, “It is not how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”
Acts 20:18-24 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 [a]But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my [b]race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Is that your freedom cry? None of these things move me? Hit me. I am getting back up.
Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
Falling does not make you a failure- the inability to rise does. There is a grace for durable work- God has called us to work for him, continually.
1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Every Christian is a member of the Body of Christ and is therefore needful. Each body part has a function, role, and job to do. Grace equips and strengthens you for this God-assigned task in His Body. Any body part that is non-functional is lame and cripple.
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
Every Christian has been given a function or job in the Body of Christ. God gives a measure of grace to that Christian based on the function they are called to perform. If a Christian does not operate in that God-ordained function, we might call that a dysfunctional Christian. This is called “receiving the grace of God in vain.”
Lazy Christians squander the Grace of God. Your replacement is being prepared through your excuses and laziness. Squatters come to church and quickly return home without helping or benefiting the Kingdom or the local church at all. They are very akin to leeches and parasites. Let us not be a parasite on Christ’s Body. When grace abounds in your life, work for the Kingdom will abound in your life. Grace is not given for you to be selfish and introverted in the Kingdom. Grace comes for you to abound in good works. Grace produces sufficiency in your life. That is, a condition in life where no aid or support is needed. It is a condition of contentment. Contentment frees you up to serve God. If there aren’t any good works in your life, there is no grace working in your life.
So if then work is a grace of God, then the ability to keep going, regardless of circumstance is also a gift of God. But you have the choice- either to stay ineffective and lazy or rise up. It does not matter what you have done in the past. What are you doing now?
1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
A stewardship is anything you have been given to look after and to care for. In stewardship it is understood that you will have to give an account for what you did or did not do with what has been placed in your care. We are stewards over God’s grace as long as we live and we will give an account to God.
Rise up and press on!
5. Running Backs Have a Will to Succeed
Great running backs are multi-talented. They need to be a combination of a good runner with the ball, a good pass catcher, and a good blocker. All of these take great vision and great skill. But overall, they have a will to succeed.
Isaiah 50:7“For the Lord God will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.
Setting your face like flint implies that you’re expecting some opposition, to stand strong in the face of adversity. To set your face like flint means to regard these difficulties as worthwhile when you consider what they will lead you to.
On the next day we [a]who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”
12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”
I think of that old man walking every day. We talk to him a lot. He walks 2 miles and I imagine it takes him 2 hours. But he’s getting it done, no excuses. He walks slow, but he keeps going through the pain and suffering of his aging and ailing body. He always has a good attitude and he’s always out there walking. The Bible tells us that we have need of endurance,
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:” Hebrews 10:36
This was spoken to a scattered group of believers who because of the persecution and affliction from a tyrannical Roman Empire and a zealous Jewish community were wanting to quit running their race. This is why there’s multiple warnings against apostasy in the letter to the Hebrews. It was a real and present threat. Endurance is more than “just put your head down and grind”. There’s a portion of that sentiment in endurance, but it’s having an adamant mindset that no matter what may come my way, no matter what pain, suffering or affliction I have to go through, no matter how high the climb and how difficult it gets to breath, I’m finishing my race with joy. Just as no one could stop Jesus from going to the cross, and no one could stop Paul from going up to Jerusalem (even though he knew persecution awaited him), no one can stop the one who has this kind of endurance. I see that old man out walking everyday, rain, snow, or fog; he’s walking his 2 miles. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, one yard at a time is a good, grinding it out pace. Just keep going. You have need of endurance. Do not grow weary and do not lose heart. IN DUE SEASON you will reap. Just give me ten yards.
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” Luke 21:19
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