In the last football game of the 1966 regular season, Millard High School played Delta High School on the Millard home field. Based on the win loss records and difficulty of schedules, these were arguably the two best teams in the Utah State High School Athletic Association 2A league. In those days, many of the teams that are now designated 3A played in this league. I played an offensive end position, either split or tight end, for Millard High School, and I knew we were a great team and I had high expectations. At that point in the season, Millard had lost 1 regular season game and Delta was undefeated so Millard had to win this game to force a play-off to win a birth in the State Quarter Finals.
At that time Millard and Delta were fanatical rivals coming from two sides of the same County, so the game was charged with adrenalin and emotion. The two teams were evenly matched with size and talent. I distinctly remember thinking during the game that those guys hit hard; every play hurt. The game was tough and hard fought. Neither team could score; we just pushed each other up and down the field for most of the game. Finally, as luck would have it, Millard ran the ball into the end zone. Delta blocked the extra point attempt. The score was 6 to 0. Later Delta scored on a fluke interception which Delta ran back for a touchdown and Millard blocked the extra point attempt. The score was 6 to 6. The game ended in a 6 to 6 tie. This was before high schools had tie breaking shoot-outs.
Therefore, this was a great disappointment for me and our team. We were ½ game behind Delta in league standing and that cost us our opportunity to go into the play-offs to potentially win the State Championship. Delta was disappointed because they had not won. It was surreal. Both teams walked off the field and the fans quietly left the stadium without saying much or celebrating. Delta went on and easily won 3 more games and won what should have been our State Championship.
One other thing still haunts me about that game. During the 4th Quarter, we were near the 20 yard line threating to score. We ran a play that called for me to line up as a tight end, block for 1 count then slip across the line of scrimmage on a short crossing route. The other receivers had gone deep dragging the defensive line backers and safeties with them. I was open; the pass was high and hot. I could barely touch it with my fingertips as I stumbled into the end zone. My motto had been, if I can touch it, I can catch it. But, on that day valor was not mine. I missed and have often wondered what might have been. There may be something wrong with me, but truthfully, I am still angry about that game. That was lost opportunity, big time, along with all the regrets.
I am convinced, hell is realizing the reality of permanent lost opportunity. Everyone takes their turn with events in this life resulting in lost opportunity and regret. It is said that Michael Jordan attempted 26 game winning shots that missed. But, when it comes to things that matter like the final judgment, nobody can afford to come up short. For that reason, I think it is important to look in the rearview mirror this time of the year and critically evaluate what is happening in your life. Set some goals and make an annual plan for the rest of the year that will help you progress toward no regrets at the final judgment.
Any plan that does not fit on a 3 X 5 card is too long. My goal this year is to improve my confidence before the Lord. I have plenty of weaknesses that I need to improve on, but I do not need to quit smoking or quit robbing banks, so I have chosen a simple three fold plan this year that I feel will be important to my progress. Each of you would do well to create your own plan.
· Be Thoughtful to my spouse. Do one thing each day to show or express my love.
· Consciously seek the Lord and the spirit throughout each day.
· Choose the good and always discard negative or improper thoughts.
My performance in the football game was a lost opportunity for me. But I must admit, that that tied score and dropped pass taught me lessons that have served me during my life. Also, I have experienced many thrilling wins in different aspects of my life including sports. I have received many blessings that have greatly enriched my life for which I am grateful, and these blessings are much more important to me than a ball game score.
Knowing how it hurts when opportunity is lost, I strive for personal improvement to be rich toward God. I do not want to lose the big game on judgment day. Jesus said,
15 …take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Finally, your faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement will assist you in bearing your disappointments and regrets.
4 ¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4)