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FIRST-PERSON: The steps to get there

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) kisses the trophy after winning the CFP National Championship against the TCU Horned Frogs on Monday (Jan. 9) in Inglewood, Calif. (Ben Liebenberg via AP)

NASHVILLE (BP) – Years from now when people look at a list of college football national champions, the 2022 University of Georgia team will be remembered first as winning its second consecutive title.

From there, the second look will show a 65-7 dismantling of TCU. More stats will confirm that domination on offense, defense and special teams. Further scrutiny will make obvious an overwhelming imbalance between the teams. Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett’s 304 passing yards were impressive enough, but his 39 yards rushing surpassed that of TCU’s entire team (36).

Years from now, casual fans will see the final result but not be as aware of what it took to get there.

The early mornings and late nights of drills, lifting weights and watching game film won’t be obvious. Neither will lost family time.

They won’t remember how UGA’s coaches brought in two transfers, thinking Bennett didn’t have the goods. Fans won’t think first about the Bulldogs beating a 6-6 Missouri team by only four points and a 14-point, fourth quarter comeback in the semifinal against Ohio State that held after a missed Buckeyes field goal attempt at the end.

Reaching a goal requires a particular mindset, one that relies on consistency and dealing with challenges. Beginning last week, many of us vowed to make changes toward improving our relationship with Christ. Perhaps the desire to keep those vows is already being tested.

I’ll read my Bible every morning.

I’ll keep a prayer journal.

I’ll look for ways to minister to others and tell them about Christ.

Those are good goals for growing in our faith. But then we stay up late, don’t have time or are simply stretched in our prior commitments.

James 1:4 speaks to endurance in the middle of trials. Embrace endurance so that it reaches its “full effect.” When that happens, we become “mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

This passage points to external trials. The concept, however, also addresses the trials we put on ourselves. It’s difficult to consider getting up early a “trial,” but we nevertheless allow it to be a roadblock.

If you read BP, it’s likely you’re a person interested in growing in your faith. But building a positive spiritual legacy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and accountability. As Paul wrote the church in Philippi, let the manner of our lives be worthy of the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).

Next year’s polls are out, and Georgia is favored to three-peat. That is generally recognized as happening only once before, when Minnesota did it from 1934-36.

Others have come close to that, and even more.

Most recently, if Alabama makes one more stop against Clemson, a 2016 national title bridges three straight titles. Should Nebraska hit a field goal with one second left against Florida State to close out the 1993 season, it starts a run of three championships in a row (and four of five) in the mid-90s. But for the seven turnovers in a 14-10 loss by Miami to Penn State in 1986 and a missed two-point conversion in the final minute against Notre Dame in 1988, we would marvel at the Hurricanes’ four consecutive national titles to close out the ‘80s. 

None of those happened, though. Candy and nuts.

The small steps we take affect where we end up. Walking closer with Jesus isn’t just about attaining something, but preparing for what we will face ahead. There will be days that don’t feel like a win.

Now is when we prepare for those days – through prayer, reading Scripture, meeting with an accountability group or other promises we’ve made to ourselves and God.

Keep stepping.