By Chaplain (Maj.) Bryan Hensley
The Heisman Trophy, to me, is the grandest trophy in football; it is the image of a player from the past, running with the ball, executing the classic “stiff-arm,” holding off the tackler causing him to fall in defeat. The runner tucks the ball away and runs toward the goal. There is nothing quite like breaking a tackle. I know less about that, but more about receiving a “stiff-arm.”
In my 1984 high school district championship, it was Bolivar vs. Republic. In one of the game’s decisive plays, myself and linebacker Rob Burkes tried to tackle a Republic running back at the same time, open field. One of us was stiff-armed into the other. Both of us fell to the ground, being “shed” by the running back as he ran for a touchdown. That game ended in our defeat and ended our chance at the Missouri state high school playoffs, a memory still raw after 30 years.
By-gone games don’t matter, but the course of humanity does. While I can’t speak about humankind, everywhere and at all times, I will speak of that which I know; I know Army folks, and they are my window to the rest of humanity. It is a mystery why I am honored to serve with true heroes, each worthy of my respect and love. But here is what defeats me the most – the “stiff-arming” of God. I hear it repeatedly, “Chaplain, I don’t need all that.”
The Bible is clear. “The Lord looks to see if there are any who seek after God. The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ These turn aside.” Psalm 14:1-3.
This is a description of “stiff-arming God.” It repeats when we think God should give us something, and he doesn’t – up goes the arm. Friend, you may very well succeed in the Army, accomplishing everything you want, but we are not judged on those things. You run to judgment with your accomplishments safely tucked away, but stiff-arm up. That is a ludicrous image – the creation snubbing Creator.
Instead of “stiff-arming” us, like we deserve, while we were still in sin, Christ died for the ungodly upon the cross. Jesus came to reconcile us to God. Drop the stiff-arm.
(Editor’s Note: Hensley is the 14th Military Police Brigade chaplain.)