I'm a big NFL fan. I love the passion and excitement of the game. Since I grew up near Detroit, one would think I'd be a Lions fan. But long ago, when I was about 10-12 years old, I chose to be a Vikings fan. Those were the days of a defensive line called the Purple People Eaters and of offensive stars like Fran Tarkenton, Sammy White and Chuck Foreman. The Vikings were exciting to watch, and to this day, I still like to watch them when I can.
In fact, this season feels as exciting to me as those early days when I first discovered the Vikings. Brett Favre is probably the best quarterback the Vikings have had since the days of Fran Tarkenton, and with the Williams-Wall and Jared Allen on defense and stars like Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson lighting up the offense, I'm eager to see if the Vikings can finally win a championship among a league of many other great teams.
But one player in particular has really gotten my attention these last couple years. Adrian Peterson is more than just an amazing running back. As I've seen him play and heard him interviewed, he has struck me as a man who mixes passion and humility remarkably well. And when I read a recent article about him at www.nfl.fanhouse.com, I found myself challenged by what motivated him to work so hard as a record-setting running back. I even wondered how much my own motivation in running the spiritual race set before me should resemble what motivates Adrian Peterson.
Check out this excerpt of the article I read: "...'I'm big in faith,' said Peterson, who grew up in Cedar Branch Baptist Church in Palestine, Texas, and attends Bible study at teammates' homes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. His faith is the strength in his life and the power in his game.
"...Peterson knows that strength and tenderness [are] required.
"'I was 7, but I remember it like yesterday,' Peterson said of the death of his eight-year-old brother, Brian, who was riding his bike when he was killed by a drunk driver. 'There was an incline in front of our apartment where we would ride our bikes up and down. I was playing football with the guys near it when Brian was hit. I ran to him and held his head in my arms. His head was swollen. I spoke to him but he couldn't speak. I ran to get help. There was nothing we could do. My mom cried for a full year, day and night. I would just hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right. Brian was faster than me, a better athlete than me. That motivated me to work hard for him.
"'I run for both of us.'"
When I first read that last line, I paused. "Wow," I thought. This man runs with such passion for someone who meant so much to him. As a man who seems to know Jesus, his experience of seeing a beloved brother die gives Adrian Peterson the motivation to use the gifts God has given him to achieve something on his brother's behalf.
That made me wonder if the death of Someone even more beloved than any brother -- the death of Jesus Christ -- provides me with that same kind of passion and motivation: the passion and motivation to "work hard for him." Jesus died for a wonderful reason -- so that we could be forgiven for our sin and know abundant life with Him for eternity! And then He sent His followers out as workers instructed to tell others about Him.
So when I consider why Jesus died and what that was meant to achieve, does that motivate me to work passionately for Him? It should! Even more so than Adrian Peterson is motivated by his own brother's death (as special as that motivation may be). And I'm so grateful that Jesus not only died, but that God also raised Him from the dead! Because that means that as Someone who is faster and stronger than me, Jesus is with me to help me to work hard for Him and to run fast for Him. He not only inspires me to passionately run the race He sets before me, but He also gives me the strength to run.
And I do believe He also does that for Adrian Peterson! Go Vikings!
© 2009 by Ken Peters