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Dropped Passes and Fallen Humanity

By Tracy Jessup

Gardner Webtracy jessup Gardner Webb dropped passes and fallen humanity



But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus(Ephesians 2:4-6)

In his book Fearless, author and pastor Max Lucado tells the story of Noble Doss who was haunted by one particular dropped pass in 1941 that he says cost his team the national championship and haunted him until the day he died. In Lucado’s words, “The University of Texas football team was ranked number one in the nation. Hoping for an undefeated season and a berth in the Rose Bowl, they played conference rival Baylor University. With a 7-0 lead in the third quarter, the Longhorn quarterback launched a deep pass to a wide-open Doss.

‘The only thing I had between me and the goal,’ he recalls, ‘was twenty yards of grass.’

The throw was on target. Longhorn fans rose to their feet. The sure-handed Doss spotted the ball and reached out, but it slipped through.

Baylor rallied and tied the score with seconds to play. Texas lost its top ranking and, consequently, it’s chance at the Rose Bowl.

‘I think about that play every day,’ Doss admits.

Not that he lacks other memories. Happily married for more than six decades. A father. Grandfather. He served in the navy during World War II. He appeared on the cover of Life magazine with his Texas teammates. He intercepted seventeen passes during his collegiate career, a university record. He won two NFL titles with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Texas High School Hall of Fame and the Longhorn Hall of Honor include his name.

Most fans remember the plays Doss made and the passes he caught. Doss remembers the one he missed” (pp. 31-32).

What a predicament in which to live one’s life. In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul sets two words against three vivid images depicting the desperate predicament of fallen humanity – “But God.” We were the objects of God’s wrath, but God had mercy on us. We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive together with Christ. We were enslaved to the world’s way of living, but God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places.

Paul reminds us of our past, not to reawaken guilt, but to help us appreciate our inclusion in the remarkable story of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. John Stott writes, “It is essential to hold both parts of this contrast together, namely what we are by nature and what we are by grace, the human condition and the divine compassion, God’s wrath, and God’s love” (The Message of Ephesians p. 80).

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your amazing grace that saved a wretch like me.


**Photo by Texas Longhorns


Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.

Read more Good Christian News from Dr. Jessup HERE.