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Jan 3, 2012

Devotional for Jan 4: Don't Turn the Wrong Way

Note: This month is Steve's turn for the daily devotionals on the local radio station. In case there is interest in the topic of sports and Christian faith among people who cannot tune in to CFMQ at 9:30 each morning, he will post the text and a link to a video version each day.
Good morning, I'm the Rev Steve Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church, and you're listening to the Daily Devotional moment, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial.
This month, I'm drawing our images of Christian faith and spirituality from the world of Sports and athletics. Today, let's talk College Football.
I've always loved the Rose Bowl. It's a once-a-year spectacle of an event. The day starts with the Parade of Roses, with some of the most spectacular floats and marching bands you'll ever see. But the centrepiece of the day is the Rose Bowl itself, a battle between two of the best college football teams in the United States. This year's game featured the University of Oregon Ducks against the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
The Rose Bowl has a long and rich tradition; it's been around for a long time. In one game, more than 80 years ago, in the heat of the moment, one player turned the wrong way, and it led to disaster.

Let me set the scene. The 1929 Rose Bowl pitted the University of California Golden Bears against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Early in the game, with the score tied 0-0, a California defender hit the Georgia Tech ball carrier and the ball popped loose. Fumble! Linebacker Roy Riegels snagged the turnover, and took off for the end zone.
Now, the men who play defence don't score very often, so imagine what must have flashed through his mind. “Here I am, playing in the Rose Bowl, and now I'm gonna score a huge touchdown off a fumble. People will remember me for years!” We remember him, but not for a great play.
In the heat of the moment, Roy Riegels turned the wrong way! He grabbed the fumble and sprinted toward his own end zone, not the Georgia Tech one. His teammates chased after him, yelling for him to stop, but he kept going. Finally, one fellow Golden Bear tackled Riegels at the 1-yard line.
Well, with their offence backed up like that, California decided to punt on 1st down and not run a single plays. And the strategy might have worked except that a Georgia Tech player got a hand on the punt and knocked it through the end zone for a safety. That put the Yellow Jackets on the board first, 2-0.
As the rest of the game unfolded, both teams traded touchdowns, and the final score ended up 8-7 for Georgia Tech. The difference in the game was the Riegels Wrong-Way run.
In our lives we have lots of influences, lots of things pulling us this way and that. And it can be hard to tell which ones are good and helpful, and which ones are bad. Like Roy Riegels, in the heat of the moment, we can make bad choices and turn the wrong way.
Fortunately, God has given us some resources. I hope and pray you have friends, family, maybe a minister or a pastor, someone willing to chase you down when you take off running the wrong way in your life. Someone willing to help turn you around can be invaluable!
And God has also provided the Bible, as a written guidebook through the challenges of life. “The gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, .. but the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to life,” says Matthew's Gospel. The words of Jesus, the writings of the Old and New Testaments, the prompting of the Holy Spirit are essential in helping us make the right choices and not turn the wrong way in our lives and decisions.
The book of Proverbs urges us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
With God's help and with guidance from the Bible, may all your paths be straight and may you avoid turning the wrong way in the heat of the moment.
For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steve Page.

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