The 1989 season was the Dallas Cowboys’ thirtieth in the National Football League, their first under the ownership of Jerry Jones, their first season under head coach Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman’s rookie year, and it was also the year they went 1-15. And even though they stunk to high heaven, there is no doubt every single player, every single coach, and every single person in the front office was devoted to winning. They all had given, and would all continue to give, their lives to the game they loved. Sometimes, no matter how devoted you are, you manage to fail. (But their failure did not last long! They won the Super Bowl in 1992, 1993 and 1995.)
Now I can’t say for sure all that went into them going from worst to first. Admittedly, part of it was that they made some good trades while managing to avoid significant injuries. But another part of it, I believe, is that their owner and their coach believed in the players and believed in their system. By and large, Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson got the guys they wanted, set up the program they wanted, and were faithful to those guys and to that plan even when they failed and things didn’t go as planned. I think it was Jerry’s and Jimmy’s faithfulness, belief and patience that ultimately prevailed and helped turn the team “from doorstep to dynasty.”
I was thinking about the Cowboys as I considered today’s topic, “The Foundation of Devotion,” and reflected on how it is that God’s attributes (which are peppered throughout chapters nine and ten, but which find special expression in verses six and seventeen of chapter nine) that allow us to pursue him in our imperfection. Just like the Cowboys in the late eighties and early nineties, we are a fully devoted group of people who manage to mix a lot of failure in with our moments of success. And just like the Cowboys, we (and even more so!) have a “Head Coach” who is full of forgiveness, grace, mercy, a slowness to become angry, and who is rich in unfailing love. He chose us! He believes in His system! He believes in us (even when we don’t believe in ourselves)! He will never give up on us! And it’s precisely because of those truths that we have both a rich and an unshakable foundation from which to live out our devotion.
Today, God’s encouragement to you is to do your best (in His strength) to live a devoted life. He’s worth it, and it’s worth it. But He also wants you to know that your failure to get it right all the time won’t get you kicked off the team. He’s faithful to you. He loves you. He’s thrilled by your efforts to prioritize Him and His ways. So if you’ve been a little discouraged, re-read today’s verses, read Proverbs 24:16, dust yourself off, and get back in the game. God promises you won’t regret it!
I’ll see you along the way!
Pastor Scott Smith
Connections & Growth Pastor