University of California football player Roy Riegels made Rose Bowl history back in 1929. In the second quarter of the game, he scooped up a Georgia Tech fumble and headed for the wrong end zone. He was tackled by a teammate — just before crossing the goal line.
His mistake would earned Georgia Tech 2 points. Riegels team had to punt from their own end zone. Georgia Tech blocked the kick, resulting in a safety that eventually won the game for Georgia Tech.
During halftime, the California players filed glumly into the dressing room. Riegels slumped in a corner of the dressing room. Coach Price offered no halftime pep talk. What could he say? As the team got ready to go out for the second half, his only comment was, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.”
The players started for the door, all but Roy Riegels. Coach Price walked to the corner where Riegels sat and said quietly, Roy, didn’t you hear me?”
“I can’t do it,” Roy protested. “I have ruined you, the university, and myself.” Coach Price put his hand on the player’s shoulder. “Roy, get up and go back; the game is only half over.”
Inspired by his coach’s confidence, Roy Riegels went out to play again. After the game, the Georgia Tech players said Riegels played harder in the second half than they had ever seen anyone play.
What we see in Coach Price is just a glimmer of God’s accepting attitude toward us. We make mistakes. Once in a while we run the wrong way. And when we stumble and fall, we make the problem worse by shrinking from God in shame. But He comes to us and says, “Get up and keep going (Proverbs 24:16), the game is only half over.” That’s unconditional love for you to receive and enjoy!
In Isaiah 43:1 God promises to love and accept you. He says, “You belong to me; you are mine.” Make that verse personal: “The God of the universe has called me by name. He says, I belong to Him.”
God doesn’t disown you when you go the wrong way. He never says, “You blew it, so you don’t belong to me any longer.” Sure, He wants you to turn around and go the right way, and He puts His Spirit inside you to get you going again. But He never says anything but, “You belong to me, you are mine.”