“24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
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November 11, 2002. Marshall vs. Akron. Byron Leftwich, Marshall’s star quarterback, gets hit and goes down hard. Marshall fans held their breath as he was carried off the field on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital.
Without their leader Marshall struggled, and allowed Akron to build a 27-10 lead. Later, the press booth confirmed what everyone had initially feared; Leftwich had broken his left tibia. Fans, teammates and coaches felt sunk.
And then the incredible happened. Leftwich appeared out of the tunnel and was being helped to the sideline. But this was not just a cameo appearance, Fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing when Leftwich donned a helmet and went back into the game!
He could barely stand without assistance, but Leftwich came back into the game to throw for over 200 yards in a little less than a quarter. Each time Marshall would advance the ball, Leftwich’s offensive linemen would carry him to the new line of scrimmage.
Even though Marshall would go on to lose the game, I remember Leftwich’s performance as one of the gutsiest of all time. He literally sacrificed his body for the good of the team.
I believe Paul, the apostle, would have appreciated Byron Leftwich’s performance. Paul seemed to be somewhat of a sports fan, using sports analogies 11 different times in his writings. The sports analogy Paul uses in I Corinthians 9:24-27 is one that reminds me of Leftwich.
Paul tells the church at Corinth play to win! Prepare yourselves for victory! Be ready for the fight! In verse 27 Paul tells the church how he prepares. When he says, “I discipline my body,” the word he uses literally means he is striking blows to his body!
Paul says, “My body is secondary to the cause of Christ!” “What I want isn’t as important as what God requires!” “I will gladly sacrifice my body for a short time on earth in exchange for an eternity with the Father!”
It’s is inspiring to watch athletes passionately leave it all on the field for the game they love. It is so much more inspiring to see Christians giving their all for the cause of Christ. “What my body wants isn’t important!” “I don’t need drugs or alcohol!” “I don’t need the gratification of sex before marriage!” “I don’t need the praise of my peers!”
The cause of Christ is more important!
It makes me ashamed sometimes to know that Byron Leftwich sacrificed his body for a football game, but sometimes I am not strong enough to sacrifice mine for something far greater.
Do whatever it takes to win! Sacrifice your body! Get the imperishable crown!
Tim Haywood is currently one of the ministers serving the Elizabethton church of Christ is Elizabethton, TN. Tim is also the former Youth and College Minister with the Central church of Christ in Johnson City, TN and was the minister in charge of 708 Ministries! What Tim has done for 708 Ministries can’t even fully be stated here because he has done so much to make 708 what it is today!! Today 708 benefits from the years of work that has put into the group! Tim is also still active with 708 Ministries by coming out and speaking and visiting occasionally!! Tim is married to Amanda Haywood and has 2 young children!