Thursday, October 7, 2021
Small football players fascinate me. One of the greatest running backs of our era was one of the smallest. By his own admission he didn’t think anyone in the National Football League would give him a chance because he was too small to succeed. But the Dallas Cowboys liked what they saw in his heart, and gave him a chance. For 15 years he was the model of sportsmanship and success.
Here’s what Emmit Smith accomplished:
- 3 Super Bowl Rings (XXVII, XXVIII, & XXX)
- Super Bowl XXVIII MVP
- 1993 NFL MVP
- 1991-93, 95 NFL Rushing Champion
- 1990 NFL Rookie of the Year
NFL Records he held or still holds:
- Most Rushing Yards (career) — 17162
- Most Rushing Touchdowns (career) — 153
- Most Rushing Attempts (career) — 4052
- Most Rushing Touchdowns (Super Bowl) — 5
- Most Rushing Yards (postseason) — 1586
- Most Rushing Touchdowns (postseason) — 19
- Most Games with 100+ Yards Rushing (postseason) — 7
- Most Consecutive and Total 1000+ Yard Seasons – 11
What it is that makes a 5’9”, 180-pound running back have any kind of a chance against 6’5”, 275-pound defensive lineman? As Proverbs 24:5-6 teaches, I believe the answer is wisdom and guidance.
“A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.”
First of all, this small running back surrounded himself with a bunch of 6’5”, 300-pound offensive lineman to run interference against the huge, headhunting defensive guys. He was made strong and earned victory because of the many advisors that he had – from coaches teaching him what do look for in defensive alignments to other players making a path for him on which to stay safe.
Secondly, he filled himself up with as much knowledge of his opponent as possible, so that when he came into the game situation he was able to adjust his running to what he recognized the defense would try to do. His eyes were always alert to the location of every opponent, and he avoided being hurt by running where they weren’t.
There are some great lessons for us in all of this when it comes to our spiritual lives, and how we run the race that has been marked out for us by God.
1. Fill yourself with the determination to be a spiritual success, which is really a product of the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is an act of our will to surrender to the will of God and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish that purpose. We must make it our priority to be spiritually successful.
2. Surround yourself with spiritual protectors – the Holy Spirit will direct us to people who can encourage us, teach us, train us, and fight for us. Get to know these people intimately. Trust them. Serve them. Develop a common goal and commit to its accomplishment. Study each other’s strengths and weaknesses so you can stand by them no matter what the opposition. Let’s become a team.
3. Study the opponent. After we develop a game plan through the power of the Holy Spirit and the people that are on our team, we must then seek to understand what the opponent is doing to try to stop God’s plan. We must discover where he is and how he will try to stop us, and then run where he isn’t. Then, as we get stronger and more confident in God’s power to protect us, we can actually start running where the opponent is, and make him run away. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” What a great moment it is in a football game when the offense decides it is time to run at the strength of the defense because the have worn them down and demonstrated an ability to overwhelm them. What a great moment it is in a Christian’s life when they are able do the same.
Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
It is not popularity, position, prestige, personality, or possessions that make us spiritually powerful, but it is the name of the LORD our God. No matter how small you think you are, you will find all the strength you need for any battle because “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”