Just Move the Chains

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Wisdom of Solomon takes a dark turn; he speaks of the lessons learned in the midst of a meaningless life. He observed:

It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart. Eccl 7:2 (NIV)

Solomon pointed out that death teaches some of the most profound lessons of life. Today I learned one of those lessons of life at a funeral. I attended the funeral of Coach Larry Wartes, who ended his coaching career at Hereford High School, and lead Stamford High to a state championship after the legendary Gordon Wood left to go to Victoria High on his way to Brownwood.

During the funeral, a distinguished gentleman shared a story from his teenage years. Rusty was the starting quarterback on the state championship led by Larry Wartes. He shared how on the night before his first game at quarterback Coach Wartes prepared him for the season of his life.

On that historic night Coach Wartes called Rusty’s house and asked him to meet him at the fieldhouse. On the way to the school Rusty wondered what his coach was up to. Was the coach going to give him a final pep talk, or film session? Was he going to go over the game plan for one last time?

To his surprise, Coach Wartes led him to the equipment room and asked his young quarterback to pick up the first down marker chains, and meet him at the field. As Rusty walked toward the field in the dark suddenly the lights came on, and Coach Wartes appeared in the end zone walking toward him. Rusty stopped at the fifty yard line and waited. When Coach Wartes arrived he asked Rusty to lay out the chains between the fifty and the forty yard line. Then he asked (no ordered) his young quarterback to walk back and forth between the chains five times. At this point Rusty is wondering if Coach Wartes has been out in the sun too long. Has the crazy old man lost his mind?

Finally Rusty stops and asks his coach, now what do you want me to do? Coach Wartes walked up to Rusty and put his arm around his young charge and says, “Rusty tomorrow night on this field all I want you to do is to focus on moving the chains ten yards at a time…don’t worry about being a star or winning the game.” He paused and emphasized, “Rusty, just keep moving the chains.” On that fateful night Coach Wartes taught his young quarterback a life lesson that stuck with him through the thick and thin of life. “Just keep moving the chains.”

Effectiveness in life often does not boil down to the most talented or gifted, but rather to the one who just keeps doing what he or she can, and “keeps moving the chains.” It is taking life on day at a time, one challenge at a time that makes all the difference.

So if you find yourself looking at your future wrapped up in uncertainly or dread, take a lesson from Coach Wartes and commit yourself to just “keep moving the chains.”

Postscript: Rusty led his teammates to a state championship under Coach Wartes ten yards at a time.



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2 responses to “Just Move the Chains

  1. David Harp

    Thanks for this post. I’m thinking this weekend of the meaning of success (labor day). This is a good definition of it. Blessings; see you in a few weeks.

  2. Great story, David. Breaking life up into manageable goals without ever taking your eyes off the ultimate prize is one of the hardest things we can ever learn to do. Thanks for this lesson.

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