My wife and I stayed up late last night watching the BCS College National Championship game, Texas versus Alabama.  It was set to be the showdown of the year, and for a handful of drives it was.  That soon came to an end when Texas quarterback and Heisman candidate Colt McCoy took a hit that would end his game, and mark the end of the senior’s college football career.  The game went on, and it was still a show stopper, but to me the scoreboard did not tell the whole story.

Due credit has to be given to the Crimson tide.  They played hard, and Mark Ingram was nothing short of super human.  I hate to admit it, but if he had been recruited by my alma mater (Auburn) years earlier, I’m sure I would be wearing the Mark Ingram Pajamas my brother-in-law always jokes about.  In the end it was the Tide who got to chalk up a “W” and storm the field, but their team was far from being the only winner that night.

It’s hard for me to imagine what Colt McCoy must have been going through for most of the evening.  The culmination of years of sweat and blood, and ultimately a chance at the national title, had just been yanked from his grasp.  Forced to watch the game unfold from the sidelines, he was helpless, unable to assist his teammates in their greatest hour of need.  Despair and disgust must have been lurking at the doorstep, just waiting for an opportunity to consume him.  He had so many options at his disposal; rancor, malice, rage, self-pity.  Instead he chose grace and humility.

In the after game interview, McCoy seemed to be holding back tears.  After composing himself, he was quick to give credit to the Tide for their win.  More importantly, he was quick to give credit to God and acknowledge that his Creator was the one in control.  McCoy didn’t cry out, “why me,” but rather chose to accept the situation and continue trusting in the “Rock” on which he had taken his stand.  Was McCoy disappointed? I’m sure. Who wouldn’t be? But disappointment doesn’t have to define you. He moved ahead in spite of it and showed us what he was made of. We saw a similar attitude displayed by Tim Tebow at the Heisman presentation, which followed Florida’s devastating loss to Alabama.  Character.  That’s what these two men displayed.  Just like their high school glory days, their college football careers are now a thing of the past.  Will they play in the NFL?  Who knows, but if they do those careers will also eventually come to an end.  What will they have when their physical gifts, fans, and fame have left them?  Character.

Everyone loves to win, but it’s how we respond to defeat that ultimately reveals who we are. We should be careful not to place either of these young men on a pedestal, they are human, and they will fall from time to time.  However, what a great example they have set for us.  That’s how I want to handle defeat.  But how does one develop that type of character?  I’ve often heard that you start to look like who you spend time with.  That makes sense.  That’s also God’s plan.  He wants us to look more like his Son, Jesus, the Rock.  Now THERE is the ultimate example of character.  Many saw a picture of defeat and failure on the cross so many years ago, but we know better.  God and the world often view success and failure differently.  So behold the cross, to the masses a symbol of death and defeat, yet in reality the path to true life and victory.  Let’s be thankful that God doesn’t always make us winners as we would have it, but allows us to use our worldly defeats to achieve real and lasting success that endures.