All six of our sons played high school football. Two played college football. So, Terry and I saw a lot of football games over the years. We specifically had a lot of exciting football years with Wahama High School, Mason, W.Va. You and I both know how memories come with the athletic territory with our kids. One in particular came to mind recently. While it stands out in my memory, it is not specifically about one of ours.
In this case, it has to do with Chad Zirkle, who was a very good quarterback during his high school tenure. Chad could throw well. Chad could run well. But, it was his ball-handling ability that impressed me most. He could exercise the fake hand-off with effective subtlety.
One Friday night, Wahama traveled to play at Tolsia in rural southern Wayne County, W.Va. Both teams were ranked high in their respective classifications. Into the third quarter, Wahama had a slight edge in the score, but it seemed momentum was turning in favor of Tolsia.
Wahama had a fourth-and-two on Tolsia’s forty-five. Decision was made to go for a critical first down. As I stood along the sideline, I could tell that the play was designed for the fullback to run the ball. The fullback was our son, Jeshua.
At the snap of the ball, Chad turned and actually stuck the ball into Jesh’s hands. I saw it. Jesh plowed into the line, but, oh, my goodness, I could tell that he was stopped short by the large defensive linemen and linebackers. Even Jesh thought he had the ball. I was so disappointed. The Tolsia players and fans cheered and applauded what they saw.
However, Chad blazed around the corner right in front of me. I thought, “Chad, what are you doing?” But, then I happened to notice the football in his right hand. I was momentarily confused what I was seeing.
In the meantime, at the bottom of the pile, Jesh said the defensive players were making fun of him for being stopped short, little realizing that they had been completely faked out. Chad ran right by by their clapping defensive back on his way to the end zone for an all-important TD for Wahama. Perhaps not everyone was faked out with the fake, but I know I was. I consider it the finest Friday night fake — ever!
From this account emerges a clear spiritual consideration. A lot of people are in a condition of needing a critical first down in their lives. That first down is coming in the form of a certain break, or the ability to gain an important advantage. The thought is that they are going to burst through that hindrance to get it. Then, life will be good. “I can do it. Just give me the ball!” they say to themselves.
The specific Scriptural image is that of the woman who was in serious bad health because of the issue of blood she had. She tried many times to get that all-important first down with her health by seeking out medical assistance, but she kept being faked out by it. While she thought she had the ball with her self-effort, it kept being pulled out from her. And, on top of that, she was kept short of what she needed. She found herself being piled on with heavy burden.
In the meantime, someone else was running with her ball, and getting great benefit.
But, in so many terms, she realized that the most important first down she could gain was to come to Jesus Christ. She concluded, “If I could but touch the hem of His garment…” When she did, He gave her fresh spiritual and emotional momentum.
It is actually a very simple thing to do when hindrances stop your successful, happy, and peaceful foray in life. Come to Jesus Christ first. Do not be faked out by the ideas, opinions, philosophies, and politics of others — Friday night fakes, if you will. Practice His principles first. Seek His guidance first.
If you do that, then you will get to carry that ball for more than a first down!
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.