The Seahawks improbable victory in the NFC Championship game might have been the single greatest game in all of Seattle professional sports history. The deep lows and the extreme highs made for one amazing ride. According to the win probability graph from ProFootballReference.com, the Seahawks only had a .007 percent chance of winning the game after Russell Wilson's final pick with 5:04 left-- that's less than a one percent chance of a comeback. After Russell Wilson’s incomplete pass to Jermaine Kearse with just over three minutes left, the win probability dipped to a .001 percent chance of a comeback. For the mathematically challenged, those are 1 in 1000 odds. I thought of the verse in the Bible when the Father of a boy said, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Considering the importance of the game, the comeback was a stunning comeback of Biblical proportions.
What followed was the entire region in an unmistakable frenzy of excitement and answered prayers. It was a regional Beast Quake! The seismographs all around the region must have penned extreme movements emanating from CenturyLink Field! 12s were hugging complete strangers. Home viewing parties erupted in jubilant disbelief. Beers were spilt. Kids finally had permission to throw unbridled hissy fits because their parents were setting the example. We 12’s lost our Northwest dignities. Heck, even the gang at my house were taking off their shirts and gyrating in ecstasy! It was a game for the ages!
As a pastor of a great start-up church on the eastside in Woodinville, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities of being a pastor of a church and being a head football coach. You train, encourage, and inspire! I too watched the final seconds unfold in joyful disbelief as I said to myself, “There is a God!” If we ever wondered if God answered prayers, we became believers. Am I saying God is a Seahawks fan? You better believe it! Number three it is.
Whether you’re a God-fearing Hawks fan or not, I couldn’t help but overlay the Seahawks template for success to real life. And here are 5 life lessons that I couldn’t help but think about after the game for all of us:
1. Never give up. NEVER. Even when the odds are improbable, never give up. Miracles happen. Steep odds are overcome. You can take one step. Make one play. You can accomplish great things by making one play at a time. Precept upon precept, step by step, you can do it. Don’t underestimate the sheer power of belief!
2. Trust Your Teammates and Coaches. Northwesterners are famous for their independence, but we need each other. We rarely solve problems on our own. Everyone has some close personal teammates that would go to battle with you if asked. They are on your team. They are pulling for you, but you need to let them help you. You are not inconveniencing them. We need to lean on each other’s strengths and protect each other’s weaknesses.
3. Have a Short Memory. If you’ve ever contemplated momentum in sports, you've found that most games shift when someone makes a big play. Why not you? You’ll throw interceptions. You’ll fumble the ball. You’ll miss a block. You’ll feel the negative momentum. You’ll even let your fans down at times. But forget about your mistakes as soon as possible, and watch the film later. Take some Sabbath time at the end your day or week to look at the film of your life and make adjustments.
4. Prepare for Your Battles. Do your best to be prepared for the important people and circumstances of your life. The game may not unfold as planned, but stick to it. Your dedication in practice and preparation may not pay off immediately, but eventually, if you string enough solid efforts together to be successful, winning habits will become the norm. Don’t listen to yourself…preach to yourself! The Psalmist David said, “O my soul, why are you downcast? Put your hope in God.” (Psalm 42:11)
5. Be Overwhelmingly, Obnoxiously Positive. Russell Wilson’s parents were overwhelmingly positive in his early life. When Kearse and Baldwin made mistakes, their teammates picked them up with encouragements. They didn’t need realists. They didn’t let the facts get in the way of the truth: they were going to win despite the odds. They needed their teammates and fans to be positive. God uses your worst days as fire starting kindle for your best days ahead.
Finally, I’d like to dedicate this blog entry to my crazed Hawk fan brother-in-law, Bill Walters (who owns www.poopertrooper.com) who is battling multiple forms of cancer. Almost too sick to go the NFC Championship game, he soldiered on to CenturyLink to cheer on the Hawks with his faithful wife Nicki. Bill and Nicki: trust your teammates and coaches, have a short memory, prepare for your battles, and be overwhelmingly, obnoxiously positive. Cancer is a formidable opponent, but you can overcome and beat the odds.