July 3, 2023
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I guess every athlete would like to do something immortal - you know, something that will be remembered for a long time. Well, Roy Riegels did it - in a way. He played center in the 1929 Rose Bowl game. I don't remember it, but it was in Pasadena, California. I was not there. But, the game was almost over, the score was really close, and both teams knew any score could well decide the game. And 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.
So he started running as fast as he could, or at least as fast as a center can go, right for the goal line. He glanced back over his shoulder. There was something very strange going on . He was being frantically pursued by his own teammates. See, his instincts told him to just keep running, and he did till he was tackled just short of the goal by one of his own teammates. See, Roy Riegels was running toward the other team's goal! Yeah, and shortly the other team went on to score and win the game. And he did achieve athletic immortality. He went down in football history as Wrong Way Riegels.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Running Hard In the Wrong Direction."
That was the center's mistake. He was running as hard as he could - it just didn't count. Someone listening right now might be making that same mistake. Our word for today from the Word of God is 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, for our body, for our appearance, all the earth stuff. You know? And then He says, "The pagans run after all these things." Well, see, that's those who think that earth is all there is. Well, of course, they're chasing after all the earth stuff they can get. Right?
But He goes on to say, "And your Heavenly Father knows that you need them." Message: You don't need to pursue those things. You need to trust your Heavenly Father for them, because He'll take care of them. Then Jesus goes on to say, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well."
Message: Put your best energy into the things that matter to God and the things that will matter in eternity - the interests, the 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, but we're running in the wrong direction. After all our hard running is done, it will turn out to be for a goal that just didn't count.
It may be you've been running so hard that you haven't thought about whether the goal was really worth it. Maybe the goal that gets the most of you is job advancement, or more money, or it could be that you're running very hard to please a certain group of people, or to have some security, or to get a boyfriend or get a girlfriend, get a husband or get a wife, or maybe to own something you really want. But after all is said and done, it's earth stuff isn't it - 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? See, that's not what you were created to pursue.
This might be a good gut-check time. You know? If, in fact, you're running for the things that will last. Right now Jesus is pursuing you. He's trying to intercept you maybe as you're running toward a goal that doesn't count. He's trying to get you turned around and running in the right direction to "seek first His kingdom."
He doesn't want the epitaph that goes with your name to be those two hollow words - wrong way.