Football is back. College stadiums were packed last weekend and the pre-season favorites tested. Starting this week, the NFL games will count! The starters will play. Pre-season is over.
I grew up in the Tom Landry era of the Dallas Cowboys. When he was hired for the expansion team in 1960 they had little prospect for success. After going winless in their first season, Landry told the team his priorities were God, family and football, in that order. Bob Lilly, who had just joined the team as the All American recruit from TCU said to himself, “We will never win.” Under Landry they went on to win 20 playoff games, appeared in 5 Super Bowls and won two.
I heard Tom Landry speak at the Billy Graham Crusade when Texas Stadium was built. He described his emptiness when he achieved each of his career goals as a star running back for the University of Texas and all-pro defensive back for the NY Giants. He quoted Augustine, “Our hearts are restless indeed, O God, until they find their rest in Thee.” A year before he became the first coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he came to faith in Christ and gave God first place in his life.
Scottie Scheffler stunned the PGA tour this year coming from nowhere to world number one and winning the Masters. After his Masters win, he said, “The reason I play golf is, I am trying to glorify God and all he has done in my life, and so for me, my identity isn’t a golf score.”
Our oldest son had difficulty “launching” when he grew up. His first semester in college he passed racquet ball. It was the only course he attended. His second semester he was on probation. It was a struggle, for him and for us.
During this time I told him he needed to put God first in his life. “If you put God first,” I said, “everything else will come into focus.” His response wasn’t immediate. It took several years, including boot camp in the Marine Corps. But he followed through and put God first. Everything else came into focus. Today he has a successful career in It, just celebrated 23 years of marriage and is a wonderful husband and father of three who are leaving home and finding their way.
The first of the Ten Commandments is God’s invitation for us to know Him. “You shall have no other gods before me.” This is amazing. The creator of the universe wants to have a personal relationship with us in which He alone takes first place. If He is not first in our life, He is not God. Everything starts here. Life comes into focus when God becomes the priority of our life.
Sometimes we are drawn away from God by personal pleasures and the pursuit of sin. Sometimes we are drawn away by things that simply make us too busy for God. We think we know what is best and we pursue our goals and dreams without taking time to submit those goals and dreams to God.
In His sermon on the mount Jesus addressed the fragmented life that is filled with worry and anxiety. He said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).