“Not one of all the Lord ’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” – Joshua 21:45
There have been few teams in the history of major college and pro sports that have been able to have a perfect record through one season. In 1972 Miami Dolphins went 17-0 and won the Superbowl. The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team went 39-0 and captured their third consecutive national championship. The 1976 Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team went 32-0 and knocked off the defending-champion UCLA Bruins, another of the greatest teams in college basketball history.
On the flip side, the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels men’s basketball team carried a 34-0 record into the final game of the season, the NCAA national championship game. In one of the bigger upsets at the time, UNLV lost to the (ugh) Duke Blue Devils, ending UNLV’s bid for perfection. Likewise, in 2007 the New England Patriots entered Superbowl XLII with a record of 18-0 and an offense that was all but unstoppable. However, they succumbed to Eli Manning and the New York Giants defense and lost that game 17-14.
I try very hard not to make promises I can’t keep. Times where I promise to play catch with my son but something else gets in the way. Times when I promise to deliver work by a certain date and fall short of that goal. I made a bunch of promises to my wife when we tied the knot. The biggest ones I have been able to keep, but I am certain that hundreds of smaller ones have gone unfulfilled. And while I try my best to limit the promises that I throw around and try to live life as an “under-promise-over-deliver” kind of person, it’s hard to live up to that all the time. And while I have learned my lesson enough times to know never to make promises to God, he still keeps all his promises to me (maybe just not always how I want them kept).
So, like the Patriots, Runnin’ Rebels, and thousands of other teams like them, I always come up short of perfect. Like I said, having a perfect record in anything is darn near impossible.
But the beauty is that when we inevitably break our promises, we have God’s grace to fall back on. Grace is a perk that allows us to be vulnerable and be in community to fulfill the work God has given us to do, not what we have promised others, or ourselves, that we will do. Having God’s grace is like having Tom Brady as your quarterback. You may lose the occasional game, and even get upset once or twice on the big stage, but you are an undisputed, all-time great in His eyes.