Articles by Stan Dean

Never Die Easy!

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My first full-time pulpit work was in the small farming town of Bismarck, Illinois, located about 120 miles south of Chicago. It was during that time that I became a fan of a running back for the Chicago Bears by the name Walter Payton. At the time I did not know anything about him personally, but I thought he was the greatest runner I had ever seen.

He played his entire 13-year career for the Bears and only missed one game which was during his rookie season. That is truly phenomenal considering the pounding and abuse his body took over the years. He was a fast and elusive runner, but also strong and punishing to would-be tacklers and never went down without a fight. His personal motto was: “Never die easy.”

I was watching a documentary about him once when the commentator made an interesting observation. Over the span of his professional career as a running back in the NFL, he gained 16,726 yards. That amounts to over 9 miles! But what is equally interesting is if you divide that number by the times he was tackled, he ran those 9-plus miles on average 4.4 yards at a time!

That is a lot of times to get knocked down! It is also a lot of times to get back up! Even though I never heard him say it, I would imagine that some of those tackles hurt- - but he got up! I am sure as often as he ran the ball during a game that there were times when he was winded or had the wind knocked out of him- - but he still got up! I am sure that sometimes those hard blows could be discouraging when his team was behind- - but he got up and ran again anyway!

Later I learned that Payton did not lead a life off the field that was worthy of imitation, but his attitude toward perseverance on the field is commendable for anyone. It reminds me of the words of Solomon when he wrote: “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity” (Proverbs 24:16).

A Christian can be hurt from the blows of life, but he gets up! Life can take the legs out from under him, but he still gets up! Even when the future looks bleak and he is discouraged- - he gets up again anyway! Why? Because with God there is always victory! (cf. Romans 8:31-39). Never die easy!

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