The Atlanta Falcons must have been feeling confident when they took a 21-point lead over the New England Patriots in the first half of Super Bowl LI. Everything was clicking as their offense scored a rushing and receiving touchdown…and even their defense got into the end zone.
They extended their lead to 25 points in the 3rd quarter, and all they had to do was finish strong to become the champs.
As everyone still tries to figure out how they allowed the Patriots to come back, it’s clear that the Falcons couldn’t handle playing with the lead. Instead of being wise and calling the correct run plays, the Falcons foolishly put Matt Ryan in positions causing regrettable mistakes.
There was a key 3rd-and-1 situation where the Falcons attempted to throw the ball and Ryan was strip-sacked. Although the Falcons had countless opportunities to keep the lead, they carelessly allowed their opponent back in the game.
The big takeaway is this…the Falcons were in a tremendous situation, yet they didn’t understand how to play with the lead.
They may have been playing too stiff or afraid of messing up, which caused them to do so anyway. Or perhaps they were too comfortable and complacent with their big lead, so they got sloppy. Or maybe they weren’t willing to adjust, so ended up being stubborn and foolish.
The concept of not playing well with the lead is unfortunately found in the lives of believers, as well. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are given eternal life and covered in God’s grace. This incredible gift allows us to live in this world by “playing with the lead.” But even though we are already victorious and won’t lose our salvation, we are also called to finish strong.
By being aware of our opponent and recognizing the challenges that come from “playing with the lead,” we are able to enjoy the blessings that come from our life in Christ. However, being saved from sin and death doesn’t give us an excuse to be disobedient or complacent. Because of God’s grace we should desire to finish strong and play well with the lead.
On the flip side, we shouldn’t be so concerned about tripping up that we become too rigid or legalistic or prideful, and miss out on the freedom of experiencing Christ and the fullness of life He gives us.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 10:10 (ESV) where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
As followers of Jesus, we are filled with His power, joy, and peace. The abundant life is found in Him now and for eternity. We get to play with the lead every single day, but we must rely on Him to help us fight our enemy and the complacency that can creep in. Blessings and favor are found in Him, so let’s finish strong as we “keep the lead” forever. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the abundant life that is found in Jesus. I pray that I would rest in Your grace and favor, and finish my life in this world strong. Please help me fight against complacency, legalism, or abusing the freedom I have because of Christ. I thank you for the joy and peace You’ve given me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.