Bo Jackson was often idolized for being an All-Star athlete in two sports at the same time. But that praise doesn’t give adequate justice. He wasn’t just a pro bowl running back, he was two completely different positions worth of athlete on the field at the same time using up only one roster slot. Let me explain that a bit.
Most teams now employ running back rotations. While not entirely new, their purpose is different than it used to be. One running back will be fast, agile, and as a result, usually smaller. Their job is to get open with their speed and avoid getting tackled with their flexibility. They look for huge chunks of yardage and the ever popular screen play. These guys generally have good hands too and will take short passes in the hopes of turning them into something much bigger.
They are hard to catch, but easy to tackle, which is a problem. So in comes RB2. The big guy. His sole purpose is to punch in through a wall of defenders and give everything he’s got to gain just one or two yards. Usually you see him on the goal line. When EVERYONE knows you are going to run the ball, it goes to the guy who won’t go down easy. He needs to be able to knock defenders backwards and drag a rookie or two for a few extra yards. So desperate for that one yard, some teams have even given the ball to their biggest lineman hoping he can penetrate the defenders with sheer power and adrenaline.
Bo was both. Watch that video. We often don’t see it these days… a running back finding open field and outrunning the safety who had an advantageous angle on him? Unheard of. And this same guy with all that speed knocked some of the most feared linebackers and defensive ends on their rumps with his raw power. Who can say they outran Deion Sanders and knocked down Brian Bosworth?
Sadly, his career(s) ended with a single tackle. Listen to the commentary on why this simple looking tackle took a beast out of commission… “If he had been a less powerful athlete, he would have been fine.” His extra power, his extra speed, his superb ability… that is what doomed him? Whether you agree with that expert opinion or not, lets table the medical condition of “extra awesome” for a moment.
Isn’t that true for Christians? Why was Paul in prison? He was close to Jesus. Why was John the Baptist beheaded? He was a significant part of the plan. Why did Peter deny Him? He knew the price of following in the footsteps of Jesus… and he wasn’t willing to pay it just then.
If you train, study, and commit you can become very good. If you train, study, and commit in the areas God has blessed you in… you will appear otherworldly to your peers. If you apply that training, knowledge, and experience in your gifting to God, you will become the target. You will be tackled from behind. Let’s change that line from the commentator a bit. What if Bo wasn’t giving it his all? What if he was tired? What if he just wanted to put in the minimum effort? I imagine he would have went down easy as well.
They think it was his momentum coupled with his strength. When he felt the enemy around him, he didn’t give up. When they started to wrap him up he said, ‘I’m not letting you get my legs’. He pulled them with his strength. He kept trying to run. It was the act of giving everything you have even when things start to go wrong. If he had conceded to the tackle, he may have just gone on and performed many more jaw dropping, spectacular plays. But he simply refused. He would not go down on someone else’s terms.
Do we? Do we give it all we have? When adversity shows up, do we lean to the sidelines yielding the drama of the tackle? Do we just fall down when something bad touches us? Are we content with just a first down? Is making the team enough? Are we happy with status quo? Or do you yearn to keep moving, to keep pushing, to keep pulling, to stay on your feet, to knock back adversity, to pummel oppression, to de-cleat turmoil in your life?
I idolize Bo as an athlete, not because of his stats. Some of his stats, when seen all alone, didn’t look that great. It was how he accomplished those numbers. It was in the time frame with shortened seasons. It was with integrity. It was with determination. He didn’t just score touchdowns… He refused to let the enemy have a say in the outcome of his goals. He didn’t care if you were a 300 pound lineman, an all-world linebacker, or an epic safety… (or all 3). If you stood in his way, you better had prepared harder and been gifted more because he was willing to empty his tank to get to the destination.
Can we say the same? With God behind us, blessing us, Biblically prepared, prayed for, do we dig in and give absolutely everything we have against the enemy in this world? Or, when he lays a hand on us, does punting sound like a good idea? “I can do all things through Christ“. Is it that we don’t really believe the word, “ALL”? Do we read that and think God made a mistake by putting that in the Bible? Do we think the Greek translation really meant, ‘I can do reasonable things…’? Or… is it the last part?
Are we not in Christ? Are we not ‘through’ Him? Is He even invited to our efforts? If we lived out our faith the same way Bo chased down miraculous catches on the baseball field, if we prayed with the same vigor that Bo plowed through defenders on the football field, if we chose to keep running even when we were inevitably stopped… we could show the world why its so important to run the race we cannot win.
Putting on the name of Christ is like getting handed the football. 11 skilled professionals will hunt you down and do everything they can to not only stop you, but to take what is yours. What is better than a tackle? A forced fumble. A defensive touchdown. Fantasy football players want nothing more than the rare sack, fumble, TD that can happen in a single play. If you are a believer without a team, I pray you find one quick. You need prayer warriors, defenders in the faith, and if nothing else, shoulders to cry on and keep you upright.
God’s church is His team and we need that to win. We have to hobble off the field when attacks don’t go so well and that is much easier with the help of some other players. That tackle is coming. That moment when Satan goes for the jugular against those that oppose him. God has armed us, prepared us, and gifted us for that moment. Will we leave skills unused? Will we leave gas in the tank? Will we go down easy, pull up, look back?