I’m trying to get my mind around 151 wins in a row…
This would be tough, say, in foursquare or chess or rock-paper-scissors, right? But we are talking about 22 players seeking victory in a complicated and volatile contest where on (as the saying goes) “any given Sunday” – or Friday night in this case – a football team can easily snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
And most teams do – though occasionally a team can put together a decent win streak, and take home a few state championship trophies. But from 1994-2002, De LaSalle High School in California miraculously strung together a 151 game win streak that shattered all records and expectations.
And then the bubble burst, in a big way. I (also) can’t get my mind around what it must have felt like to be a Spartan player or Coach Ladouceur, as you helplessly watched the seconds on the clock tick down to your first downfall in nearly a decade.
When the Game Stands Tall tells the story of what happens when the bottom falls out of life. It is a fascinating glimpse into the aftermath of crippling failure and obliterated dreams, and even though you haven’t had an eight-year streak of victory come to a halt, my guess is that you have experienced disappointment and loss.
You’ve made promises to God, only to break them hours later.
You’ve failed people time and time again in the same ways.
You’ve attempted great things, only to find that perhaps you are incapable of achieving them.
And like the Spartans, you’ve probably wanted to hang up your helmet, and quit the game.
I would guess that Jesus’ disciples felt exactly the same way on the day He was crucified. For three years, they had a “victory” streak with the Savior, watching Him walk on water, heal the sick, and even raise the dead! But on that fateful Friday, they watched helplessly as Jesus drew His final breath.
But that’s when the game stood tall.
From the darkest of defeats, Jesus conquered death and rose from the dead to proclaim the greatest victory ever achieved in the history of mankind. And when the disciples finally let that truth revive and resurrect their broken and crushed spirits, they turned the world upside down with the gospel and the power of Jesus Christ.
So perhaps you are in a season of life when the game needs to stand tall for you?
You may have made promises to God that were broken soon after, but the promises of God to you will remain forever! He has guaranteed us that He will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).
You may have failed people time and time again, but God doesn’t measure you with a ledger. He has assured us that our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
And maybe you’ve failed when you’ve attempted great things, but remember that the cross of Christ was perceived as a monumental failure at the time, but only three days later, it became clear that the crucifixion was the epitome of victory!
I love the way Coach Ladouceur reflects upon being courageous enough to “conquer our own cowardly spirit,” when he says:
“That little voice inside of us that says, ‘I can’t’, ‘that’s too hard’, or ‘I’m not good enough.’ The biggest reason why we don’t achieve is because we don’t believe we can. We place roadblocks in our own way sabotaging our own efforts. It takes courage and determination to crash down those roadblocks and push the limits that we have placed upon ourselves.”
— From “Jim Caviezel on Faith, Bob Ladouceur Football and When the Game Stands Tall” at CBN.com
And I believe that courage and determination is rooted in the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us permanently – through success or failure. He has placed a holy ambition and passion inside of us that can be quenched and even eradicated if we listen to the lies of the Enemy. That’s why you can wake up each day and dedicate yourself to THE Cause with this incredible promise:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:31-39).
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
When failure comes our way, we have the choice to hang our heads and quit, or we can take inspiration from stories like De LaSalle and their dedication to overcoming adversity. Jesus has conquered death so we can be more than conquerors!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, thank You for showing us that even in defeat, victory can be achieved. Please empower us this week to let go of our past failures and depend on You for strength to conquer our challenges.
Read: Deuteronomy 20:4. “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Get: Discussion Guide for When the Game Stands Tall. Download this free Discussion Guide here.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: When the Game Stands Tall is a great reminder that even in defeat and disappointment, great victories can be achieved – especially when we rely on the promises of God.
Key Scripture: Romans 8:31-39
- What does the movie When the Game Stands Tall teach us about following Jesus?
- What have you learned from your failures?
- In what ways can you relate to the Romans 8:31-39 passage?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?