I guess every athlete would like to do something immortal, something that will be remembered. Roy Riegels did - in a way. He played center in the 1929 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, California. The game was almost over - the score was very close. Both teams knew that any score might well decide the game. Then, on one play, Roy Riegels suddenly found himself with a ball in his hands. Now centers only know what to do with the ball when they're snapping it to the quarterback - but Roy Riegels had it whether he liked it or not. Well, he started running as fast as a center can go - right for the goal line. He glanced back over his shoulder and he saw a strange sight - he was being frantically pursued by his own teammates. His instincts told him to just keep running, and he did - until he was tackled just short of the goal - by one of his own teammates. Roy Riegels was running for the other team's goal. And shortly, the other team went on to score and win the game. And as for athletic immortality? He went down in football history - as Wrong Way Riegels!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Running Hard In The Wrong Direction."
That was that center's mistake. He was running as hard as he could - but it just didn't count. Someone listening right now may be mistaking the same mistake.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Matthew 6:32-33. Jesus has just been talking about a lot of the concerns that occupy our everyday lives - having enough for our basic necessities, our body, our appearance. Earth-stuff. And he says, "The pagans run after all these things." Those who think that earth is all there is are chasing all the earth-stuff they can get. "And your Heavenly Father knows that you need them." Message - you don't need to pursue them, you need to trust your Heavenly Father for them. He'll take care of them.
Jesus goes on to say, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Message - put your best energy, your best effort into the things that matter to God, that will matter in eternity, the interests and agenda of the work of God on earth, a lifestyle that majors on doing the right thing.
Now, we're wired to be runners - we're wired to be people who run hard toward a goal, but it's supposed to be an eternal goal. The problem is - some of us are running hard in the wrong direction. After all our hard running is done, it will be for a goal that just didn't count.
It may be that you've been running so hard you haven't thought about whether the goal is really worth it. Maybe the goal that gets most of you is job advancement - more money. Or it could be that you are running very hard to please a certain group of people, or to have some security, or to get a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, a wife, or to own something you really want. But it's earth-stuff - stuff the Lord wants to give you if and when it's best for you. But could it be that some earth-stuff has become the central pursuit of your life?
That's not what you were created to pursue. And right now Jesus is pursuing you, trying to intercept you as you run toward a goal that doesn't count. He's trying to get you turned around "to seek first His kingdom." He doesn't want the epitaph that goes with your name to be those two hollow words - "Wrong way."