Sunday afternoon, an era ended in Austin when Mack Brown, head coach of the University of Texas Football team resigned after 16 successful seasons. As an OU fan, I am always interested in what is happening at our biggest rival. With Mack, I have been especially interested, as his career once had a stop at OU as an assistant coach in the 1980s.
As Brown’s coaching career has come to an end, I have been reflecting on his legacy a bit this past week. While his coaching career has many highlights, there is one Mack moment that stands out most to me. It was January 4, 2006 on college football’s biggest stage — the national championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mack’s Longhorns had just beaten USC for Texas’s first national championship in 36 years . . . and Brown’s first of his head coaching career. After having a career of very good teams who never won it all, Mack finally found his dream becoming reality. You could see the pure joy on his face as he lifted the crystal ball above his head. Of course, Mack Brown’s 2005 championship team is the defining moment of his Texas tenure for all people, not just me . . . but it was not the fact that he won the championship that stood out so much to me. What stood out to me is what he said over the loudspeaker at the Rose Bowl right after the clock hit triple zero:
“This one is for all the high school football coaches and players all over the state of Texas.”
Wow. What poise. What heart. What a way to see the big picture. At that moment in 2005, Mack Brown was the Dan Marino or Karl Malone of major college coaching . . . the very good coach/player who never won the big one. People would have indulged Mack if he had done a little chest pounding. If he had made the moment somehow about him. Instead, he places this personal triumph in the biggest context possible, sharing it with every kid in the Lone Star State. For me, that was the greatest single moment of Mack Brown’s career.
Today, we are looking at Luke 1:57-66 as we continue our Advent march to the manger. These verses share with us the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. After living almost an entire lifetime without children, God had blessed Zechariah and Elizabeth with a child and they were about to give birth. The story goes like this:
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
After living a very full life by many standards, Zechariah and Elizabeth still felt empty. They had wanted to have children, yet Elizabeth’s womb was barren. As her empty arms became a heavier burden over time, it appeared that they would end their career on the earth without a child. However, God intervened and blessed them with the ability to conceive the child that was born to them in Luke 1:57-66.
Having finally had the child of their dreams, however, Zechariah and Elizabeth showed incredible poise. Instead of making this moment about them, their personal joy, their personal privilege, the new parents showed great humility and obedience by naming this boy “John.” Apparently their friends were surprised by their choice. The normal name for the boy would have been to name him after one of their ancestors or Zechariah himself. To do so would have stamped the boy with their families priorities. It was an expected moment of personal triumph, but that is not what Zechariah and Elizabeth did. Instead, they showed deference to God and name him what God desired the boy to be called, “John” showing the role God had set aside for him as the forerunner to Messiah.
Of course Zechariah and Elizabeth were going to enjoy the blessing of being new parents and raising this boy, but the ultimate glory for this birth was given to God, not their family. They had placed this boy’s birth in the biggest context possible.
In our lives, many times we pray and pray, asking God for the new job, the new child, the reconciled relationship, the financial provision, etc. However, once the blessing comes, many times we forget to have the poise that Mack showed at the Rose Bowl and Zechariah and Elizabeth showed at the circumcision of their son. Instead of thanking God for His provision, we make the provision all about us. We do a little chest pounding . . . we think we deserve it.
As we read the story of the birth of John the Baptist I am reminded to place my life in the biggest context possible: living for the glory of God, not just my personal championships.