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Posted: January 24, 2013 8:30 p.m.

Dees: Have the guts to keep going

In the late 1950s, the University of Georgia football team had an outstanding lineman who was voted All-SEC and an All-American in the 1959 and 1960 seasons. He would go on to coach under Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama, and eventually he would become the head football coach of Auburn University from 1981–1992. Pat Dye won 99 games at Auburn, including four SEC Championships; he also coached many All-Americans and even a Heisman trophy winner named Bo Jackson.

I was born the son of two Auburn graduates in 1982 in Alabama. My father even played football for Auburn from 1972–1975 under Shug Jordan. So it is no surprise that some of my earliest memories are of watching my Tigers win another SEC championship, or beating Alabama for the fourth straight year in 1989.

Pat Dye was the first coach I remember at Auburn and as a boy I was proud to say that he was the coach of my team. But, for all of those good years and great wins that Auburn had, it was something Pat Dye said in one of his greatest defeats that has stuck with me the most in my life.

In Pat Dye’s first year, Auburn lost a tough game at Tennessee, 10–7. The players fought hard to the end and just came up short. In the locker room after the game, Dye was addressing his players and said, "There’s gonna be a lot of days when you lay your guts out on the line and come up empty handed. But, there isn’t a dang thing you can do about it, except to lay them out there again and again and again." I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about that quote, because there have been many days in my life where I have worked hard for something and have done all that I could only to be disappointed. The only thing you can do is to just keep trying and keep working. Weak people use defeats in life as a crutch, but strong people use defeats in life to make them stronger.

I don’t know how systematic or orthodox Pat Dye’s theology is, but his words to his players on that day were spot on. I can’t attempt in this short article to try and explain why bad things happen to good people, or why people try hard for something noble and come up short. What I can tell you is this, as Christians we know that in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in, God is in control, and he is good. We live in a very cruel world filled with sin and disappointment. I know a lot of people who have lost heart in the face of disappointment, but this is not what we have been called to in Christ. I am reminded of the words of Paul to the church in Corinth,

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Life, like football, is not easy but because of Jesus, Christians have a hope that even our disappointments and pain can achieve for us eternal glory. There are going to be a lot of days when you lay your guts out on the line and come up empty handed, I am sure there have already been a lot of days like that in your life. But there really is only one thing you can do about it: trust God and keep moving forward, keep doing what is right, and keep working hard. When you show faith in Christ in a tough situation, you achieve glory making much of the name of Jesus. So, I hope this little article will encourage you; no matter what circumstance you may find yourself in, don’t quit, keep trusting and keep the faith in Christ.

Jason Dees is a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, the husband of Paige and the father of Emery Anna. He is also the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington.

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