Drowning? You Need A Livesavior

by Bryan Wagner

I was playing in a preseason Monday Night Football game on a hot and muggy August night. Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys and I were taking on Mike Ditka and the upstart Chicago Bears. It was the good guys in silver and blue against the bad guys in dark blue and black. I was having a good rookie preseason as a punter and kickoff specialist for the Cowboys. It was close to the last cut before the season officially started and it was down to 2 punters, Mike Saxon and myself. I was slated to punt and kickoff in the second half so I was carefully watching the first half. Mike almost had the first one blocked, but he finished up with 2 more good punts. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

The second half started and I knew I was physically ready, but my stomach felt as if I had swallowed feathers from a pillow. I was pumped up as I ran out on the field for my first punt and I knew I was going to boom one. As I stood back behind the center waiting for the snap, I saw 2 of the fastest Bear return team creeping in to rush my punt—the nerve of them! Well, before I knew it, the ball and those 2 speedy Bears were coming towards me. I yelled something I’m ashamed of now, caught the ball and tried to kick it quick. I got the ball off without it being blocked, but it didn’t go where and how I wanted it to. In fact, it nearly took that famous hat off of Tom Landry’s head. I had shanked the punt! As I came off the field, Coach Landry was giving me one of those pitiful looks, crossing his arms and shaking his head slowly. I knew at that moment I was gone, I was cut, I was history and most of all I had ruined my shot at the NFL. I was called into Coach Landry’s office the next morning and to this day I can still hear his voice saying "Son, you just don’t have what it takes right now to play in the NFL". I was devastated, dejected, disappointed and most of all demoralized. (I felt all of the "D" emotions).

I called my parents with the bad news. They said that they were sorry and my mother would pick me up at the airport. I was heartbroken and in tears the whole plane flight home because my dreams had been dashed. I didn’t want to explain or talk about anything with anybody. I just needed time by myself. My mother knew that—in fact I think she knew exactly what I was going through. She greeted me in the terminal with a warm comforting hug and kiss on the cheek and told me that she loved me and that she was very proud of me. Then she reached into her purse and handed me a roll of "Lifesavers", whose slogan at the time was something like "when you are drowning and need to be saved". These gestures and that roll of Lifesavers meant more than words can ever convey. My mother loved me and cared for me because of who I was and who I could become. She didn’t care what I did for a living or how I performed. I was her son, no matter what, and she loved me, no matter what.

I came to realize that God cares for me like this too. God loves me for the individual that I am and can become, not for what career I have or how I do in my profession. His love is not performance based. He loves me unconditionally.

He showed me His unconditional love by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into this world. Jesus suffered and died for my sins so He could pay off completely everything I have done wrong. God has an eternal plan for me, not just a plan for Monday Night Football.

Realize that God has an eternal plan for you. He loves you unconditionally. Look to Him whether you are "ready for some football" or you need a roll of Lifesavers and need to be saved from drowning.