The University of Oregon fighting Ducks were victorious over the Wisconsin Badgers in the 106th Rose Bowl football game. The fourth quarter was the most exciting part of the game as the both teams fought for the victory. The Ducks and the Badgers were pretty evenly matched, with Oregon squeezing out one more point than Wisconsin. The final score was 28-27. Whew!
Without wanting to take anything away from Oregon’s hard earned win, I was disappointed in how the game finished. The Oregon team walked to the scrimmage line, got in position for a play. It looked as though the Ducks were going to kick. But when the clock started and the ball was hiked, they quarterback took a knee, put down the ball and walked away with 30 seconds left in the last quarter.
As the clock continued ticking, the team began celebrating. Fans started pouring out onto the field. Water was dumped on the coach’s head. All this while the official game clock continued ticking away the final seconds of the game.
People who know more about football than me are quick to explain. They say that the Ducks didn’t want to start another play with the risk of turning over the ball and giving Wisconsin a chance to score. Other say that the Oregon team didn’t want to risk another play which might result in injury. OK, I get it. Still, even as an Oregon alum and Duck fan, I believe it was wimpy to quit playing the game before it was officially over.
What lesson did the finish of the game have for me? Eighteen months ago I concluded my forty-year career as a professor at Western Seminary. Although I still enjoyed teaching the Bible, I knew that there were others who could do the job equally as well. And they were ready and waiting their turn. In addition, I wanted to leave my teaching post before I ran out of steam and someone suggested that it was time to move on.
So I am officially “retired.” But I really don’t like that word. My game is still on. The clock is still ticking. And I plan to keep playing. I still have sermons to preach, books to write, lectures to teach and disciples to mentor. I don’t plan to spend the next decade of my life coasting to finish line of my life. I want to finish strong and finish well.
I have been in enough marathons to know that the last six miles is the toughest part of the 26-mile race. Plodding along with blistered feet, hungry and thirsty from pushing my way through the first twenty miles, I have wondered, “why am I doing this? I am not going to win. Who cares if I finish?”
But in spite of how I feel or how badly my legs ache, I know I have to finish the race. I will stop at the finish line, and not before. It would be easier to stop running and disappear into the crowd of spectators. But my family would be surprised and a bit disappointed. Most importantly, I would be disappointed in myself.
I don’t know how many more minutes, hours, months or years there are left in my game. Someday the Lord will blow His whistle and stop the clock. But until that day, I will be playing hard, playing to win, giving Satan some hard knocks and doing all I can to advance the kingdom of God here on earth. The mighty Oregon Ducks won the 2020 Rose Bowl football game. But they didn’t finish strong. They didn’t fight until the clock stopped. They coasted into the finish. They started the victory celebration before the game was officially over.
I hope and pray that by God’s grace, I will still be in the race, pushing hard in the marathon of life until I cross the finish line and the clock stops.