In the world of football, if you can’t go 10 yards in the first 3 downs and you’re too far away to kick a field goal, then the safe choice is to punt on fourth down. This gives your team the ability to regroup and puts your opponent deeper in their own territory.
That is the safe fourth down move.
Unless you are Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
Kelly is known for doing what others don’t do. He goes for it on fourth down. Postgame.com recently reported on Kelly’s strategy in a game against Arizona. Early in the game Kelly signaled for his team to go for it on 4th down. Only this time they did not make it and the ball was turned over to Arizona. No worries however for Kelly.
After the tackle, Arizona linebackers rejoiced with passionate fist pumps and jumped on top of each other like frogs mating. The Wildcats were getting the ball in field-goal range (Oregon’s 35-yard line) with a chance to take an early lead on the No. 3-ranked Ducks, but more importantly, they had just won their first battle against Kelly’s virtually unstoppable “Quack Attack” offense. Yet, as he paced the Oregon sideline, Kelly reeked of smugness.
Kelly had set the tone, and his demeanor made clear that he was unperturbed by the outcome of the previous play. Kelly goes for it on fourth down consistently and confidently. Oregon’s players, on both sides of the ball, comprehend Kelly’s strategy. The Ducks didn’t convert, but they didn’t care, because they knew the following equations would hold true:
Oregon’s offense > Arizona’s defense
Chip Kelly > Every other coach in college football
Oregon’s next fourth-and-short came late in the second quarter when the Ducks faced a fourth-and-2 on their own 34-yard line. Kelly went for it again, and this time Kenjon Barner ran for six yards and a first down. Oregon went on to a 16-play scoring drive that ate up all but 28 seconds of the first half and totally deflated Arizona’s defense. Oregon went on to score 36 points in the second half en route to a 49-0 win.
This not only makes for a great football story, it makes for a great life story. What if we had such confidence in God’s love, mercy, and grace for us that it drove us to risk? What if we stepped outside of living safe? What if we did what to others seemed like foolishness? What if this assurance drove us to give ourselves away, sacrifice, love, and serve in ways we never would have before?
What if we lived by the equations:
Being forgiven & made righteous by Christ > Fear of what others think
Christ’s love > Every other fear we could face
In Christ we can experience a level of favor, acceptance, forgiveness, cleansing, righteous that frees us from duty, obligation, fear, and self-obsession. In the confidence of Christ we can live in a way that seems reckless and foolish to others.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:16-18
In Christ I no longer have to fear what God thinks of me. I no longer have to fear that I haven’t done enough. I no longer have to fear what might happen to me. In that confidence I can do all things! I can risk!
So, the next time you’re faced with a fourth down and impossible situation, go for it! Remember who loves you! Remember who you are! Risk it! God’s love for you is greater than what others could ever conclude about you!