Legendary Coach Vince Lombardi used to say that you could measure everything about a prospective player except the size of his heart. You could determine his strength, his speed, his football acumen, and other factors, but you couldn’t measure his desire to become a champion. In describing his All-American quarterback, Pat Trammell, Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant said, “He can’t run, he can’t pass, he can’t kick – all he can do is beat you.”
Life is full of enigmas. One of them certainly has to be that so often the one who seems to have the most promise is not the one who succeeds. The blue chip athlete is a bust. The guy with average ability finds a way to win. On paper, it shouldn’t be a contest. The star with all the press clippings should excel. The other fellow with no sterling credentials ought to ride the bench. Funny thing, though – the game isn’t played on paper.
Life isn’t lived that way, either. Being named the ‘most likely to succeed’ never guaranteed success. Something has to happen in us if something is going to happen through us. The Bible says that God is always looking for those with the right kind of heart: “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
The Apostle Paul knew something about promise. He was the finest student of the greatest rabbi. He had the best education one could have in his day. He was a rising star whose pedigree was exceptional. But he found something better than a really strong résumé. He learned a different perspective. He discovered that there was only one prize worth his best effort and highest commitment: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8).
The world might look at the stats; God looks at the heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).