Next Man Up

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

To the surprise of most football experts and college football fans, visiting Georgia easily defeated Missouri 34-0. It was Georgia’s first-ever shutout on the road against a ranked opponent.   UGA dominated the game despite being without Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley, who was suspended by UGA the Thursday before the game pending the completion of an investigation that Gurley sold his own autographs.

On the Thursday afternoon before the Missouri game, the announcement of Gurley’s suspension blew up Twitter and caused much speculation over Georgia’s demise until game time. Minimally, his suspension was a major distraction for the members of the team and the coaching staff. However, there is a saying in football called “Next Man Up.”  It means that when a player is lost for the next game due to injury, illness or suspension,  the next man in the depth chart steps up.  I have also heard it called “Man down, man up.”

I have noticed from my involvement as a chaplain with the Roswell High School football team that when a man goes down, there is no talk during practice of “woe is us” or lamenting or small talk about what could have been. It’s the next man up, and the team moves on from there. In UGA’s case the next man up was freshman tailback Nick Chubb, who gained 143 yards in 38 carries and converted several big first downs for the Dawgs. The game without Gurley was an opportunity for the players and coaches to dig a little deeper and come up with a big effort, which is exactly what the Dawgs defense did, holding Mizzou to 147 yards and forcing five turnovers.

There is another kind of next man up. That kind happens when a family member succumbs to a major illness, or a teammate goes down with an injury for the season, or a friend is faced with a daunting personal challenge. You may be the “next man up” in that person’s life. You can respond in a Christlike manner that can bring comfort, peace, understanding and encouragement exactly when that person needs it most. Bearing one another’s burdens is the responsibility of all Christians, and we fulfill that call when we take positive action and become the voice, the ears, the hands, and the feet of Jesus.

Who do you know that needs a phone call, a meal, a ride, a text, a visit, a kind word, a card, or a note of encouragement? Who do you know that needs an intercessory prayer from a brother or sister in Christ? Be somebody’s “next man (or woman or boy or girl) up” today!

Prayer: Father God, help me realize when it’s my time to be the next person up in the life of someone that I love and care about. Thank you for always being there for me whenever I need you.  In the name of Jesus, amen.

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