Back when there was still an American Football League, the Super Bowl was played between champions from the AFL, and the eastern and western conferences of the NFL. But in 1967, nobody cared about the Super Bowl, given what transpired at the NFL championship game. The contest was a rematch of the 1966 NFL championship game between the beloved Dallas Cowboys (insert wild applause) and the hated Green Bay Packers, and would pit two future Hall of Fame coaches against each other – Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. At kickoff, the temperature on the playing surface of Lambeau Field was minus fifteen degrees, with the wind-chill factor dipping that figure to nearly fifty below. Broadcasters began referring to the situation as the Ice Bowl, because once the game got underway and the stadium’s shadow fell across more and more of the field, the moisture that had been on the field’s surface was flash frozen into a sheet of ice. Legend has it that it was so cold, in fact, that the collegiate marching bands scheduled to play during halftime had to ditch their commitment because during pregame warm-ups, the brass instruments stuck to the musicians’ lips. Same was true for the refs and their metal whistles, even though they had to forge ahead.
It was against this very chilly backdrop that I watched my Cowboys inch ahead to a 17-14 lead. Finally, we were going to net the big win. I was seventeen years old and remember the euphoria still today. But it wouldn’t last for long; inexplicably, the Packers recovered possession and began stitching together drives down the field. They ended up on the Cowboys’ one-yard line and lined up with first and goal. They attempted a couple of running plays but failed, which is when I started hollering at the TV: “Third and goal! Come on, Cowboys! Hold ’em, hold ’em, hold ’em!”
Seventeen seconds were left on the clock. Would the Packers run, or would they throw? Everyone held their collective breath as Packers quarterback Bart Starr called for the play. It was going to be a wedge play, a quarterback sneak right behind the center and guard. That guard was Jerry Kramer, and later he would explain that he was praying with all his strength that Starr wouldn’t call his number. He was freezing cold. He was exhausted. It was almost the end of the game. He didn’t have anything left in his legs and felt sure he couldn’t make another block. But then the call came: Starr asked Kramer to make the big block.
Just when Kramer thought he couldn’t take another step, he heard the crowd start chanting, “Go! Go! Go! Go!” The shouting rose like a wave of thunder across the plains. “Go, go, go, go, go, go, go!” Sixty thousand raving fans, all saying, “Go!” even as Kramer’s body was pleading, “No!”
As the crowd kept on – Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! – Kramer crouched into his three-point stance and somehow summoned the strength to make that key block. Starr rushed the end zone, and the Packers won, 21-17.
It was a very sad day.
Still, despite the upset, don’t you love that crowd for cheering him on? There’s a spiritual lesson here for you and me. As we go about our lives being salt and light for a very bland, very dark world, we are to remember the heavenly host that surrounds us, cheering, “Go! Go! Go!”
“Go!” they cheer when we have an opportunity to bless someone in the name of Christ.
“Go!” they cheer when we see a chance to speak an encouraging word.
“Go!” they cheer when it’s fitting to share our faith story with someone living far from God.
“Go!” they cheer when we discover a pressing need and realize we have just the right resources to meet it.
Whenever we consider setting aside self-interest and serving someone else’s interests instead, whenever we forgo making a living and making someone’s day instead, whenever we fend off weariness and summon strength to show up and love well – in these and a thousand other noble situations, the entirely heavenly host is hollering, “Go!”
And so we do. We go with the full confidence of Christ, knowing that his will and his ways and his guidance are better than any we ourselves could dream up. We go, trusting that our good God is at work in this world and that he is eager for us to play a part in it.
Watch Jack Graham throughout the week on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from Angels: Who They Are, What They Do, and Why It Matters by Jack Graham. Copyright ©2016 by Jack Graham. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.