After we got home from church on Sunday, the TV was on the NFL Network. Now I realize that this isn't exactly football season, but around here it's always football season. The program was a countdown of the top ten biggest mistakes in the history of the NFL. Now I don't for a minute believe these were the ten biggest foul-ups, but they were certainly high profile.
But none were more high profile than Jim Marshall's wrong way run. Marshall, an all-pro defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, had a stellar career. He was a big part of one of the most feared defensive lines in the NFL -- the Purple People Eaters. However, even with all the accolades for his accomplishments, Jim Marshall is still remembered by many for his wrong way run.
The Vikings were playing the San Francisco 49ers when the 49er runner fumbled the ball. Marshall, quick as a cat, scooped up the pigskin and headed for the end zone. The only problem was that Marshall didn't turn around, he simply ran. His teammates were yelling at him from the sideline to turn around, but Marshall thought they were just cheering them on. When he reached the end zone, he tossed the ball into the stands thinking he had just scored a touchdown for the Vikings. Unfortunately for Marshall, he had just scored a safety -- 2 points -- for the 49ers. Eventually, as the pictures above show, one of the 49er offensive players caught up to Marshall to give him the bad/good news.
The announcer on the television program spoke about how Marshall was seen as a superman in the league up until that day. Then he said, "But on that one play, Superman was just a man who was lost."
Those words struck me as odd. Remember we had just been at the church for Sunday services. This Sunday we had an unexpected visitor. I'll call her Eve.
Eve hadn't expected to visit our church that Sunday either. She had received a call from her 24-year-old son from a county jail about 30 minutes from our church. After she took her son his heart medication, Eve got back in the car for the 30 minute drive home. But somewhere along the line, Eve got mixed up and went in almost exactly the opposite direction as she should have. Finally, feeling exhausted and desperate, she saw a church with a bunch of cars in the parking lot and a few people milling about, so she pulled in to ask directions.
She was quickly brought in for a restroom stop and a cup of coffee. It was (coincidentally or providentially) our coffee and donut time, and a lady from our congregation sought me out to see if I could give Eve directions back home. I did, then turned to get the service started.
We were about ten minutes into the service before I realized that Eve was sitting in the back pew, right beside the lady who had asked me to give directions. She stayed there listening as I preached about not being able to understand God's plan sometimes, and how God's love doesn't fail even though tragedy befalls us.
Eve asked to talk to me after the service. She was truly lost. Her husband had died just three months ago. Now she was all alone, away from a man who almost never left her side. Her head wasn't quite right. She was a bit confused. She was lost.
She asked me to find a pastor for her in her hometown so she could talk to someone once her nerves settled down a bit. She told me she had wanted to sit down with a pastor but didn't know who to talk to. Then after Eve composed herself, she and a couple from church left for home. The couple wanted to be sure Eve would make it, so the woman rode with Eve while her husband followed. On the way home, Eve made two wrong turns due to her muddled mind. Finally she made it home. But she's still lost.
If a superman can get lost, a woman mourning the love of her life can certainly get lost. Please pray for all of the lost -- especially Eve.