I have worked with kids for a number of years and I have 4 children of my own so I have developed a great appreciation of Dr. Seuss. I enjoy his writing myself and have even written some Seussian-Style poetry of my own. My girls each have favorite Seuss stories and often ask for them to be read at bed-time and any other time too. So just imagine that those great stories were never available for us to enjoy. That would be a sad day. And yet, one of the amazing stories of Dr. Seuss’ writing career is that his first book, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” was according to Wikipedia rejected by “at least 20 publishers” before it was published by an old college classmate. At what point do you say “well, I guess that didn’t work out” and try a different career path. Especially with the first attempt. But Seuss kept on trying and I for one am glad that he did.
The story of Rayfield Wright has some similarities. As you can read in this story from from cjonline, Wright went from a high school “walk-on” to a Hall of Fame NFL lineman. Along the way, he played in 13 NFL seasons, playing in over 200 games, 5 Super Bowls (winning 2). He was a 6 time All-Pro, 6 time Pro Bowler, 1972 Lineman of the year and NFL Hall of Fame inductee (2006). He tried out for football in each of his 4 years in high school. He didn’t make the team as a freshman, sophomore or junior. For some, the temptation may be to give up and try something different. But Wright tried out again as a senior, this time he made the team. Scouts came to check out some teammates, but Wright caught their eye, too. And the Dallas Cowboys would eventually choose Wright in the 7th round of the 1967 draft. He began his career as a Tight End, but was transitioned to Offensive Line in his third season. Read here about his first game at Tackle was against Hall of Fame D Lineman Deacon Jones.
“Before the Cowboys’ first snap that day, Wright recalled, Jones barked a question at him from the other side of the line of scrimmage in his deep voice, “Boy, does your mama know you’re out here?” Wright said he momentarily lost the concentration and focus he had been trained to maintain. Jones cleaned Wright’s clock on that first play. As he picked himself up from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum turf, Wright told Jones, “You don’t know my mama, so don’t talk about her.” Jones never reached Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach during the game, and Wright’s work blocking him didn’t go unnoticed. “I got the game ball,” Wright recalled, “and coach Landry never took me out of right tackle.””
Wright was raised by his mother and grandmother who instilled in him the need for relationship with God and “At age 10 he prayed, with his grandmother listening, that God would give him the opportunity to help his family and others in his life. “Grandma said, ‘Son, do you believe in what you prayed?’ ” Wright said. “I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, I believe.’ She said, ‘Well, you keep that in front of you and don’t ever let it go.’ “Wright stressed the importance of young people having adults who believe in them — and let them know it. He encouraged the audience to “reach out” and help young people and make a difference in their lives. “We’re all significant,” Wright said. “We’re all important. God has a plan for us. If you don’t know what that plan is, get on your knees and pray to God, because he created you and he called you.”
Here are my takeaways from Wright’s Story
1- Be Persistent – Theodore Seuss was persistent with his first book finally getting it published after many rejections, Wright was persistent in sticking with football even though he didn’t make the team the first few times he tried. We all have opportunities to show persistence. How willing are you to stick with it? I promise you that sticking with God’s plan and following it even in the face of resistance and opposition is worth it? But my favorite story of persistence in the Bible is found in a verse in Revelation 3.20. Jesus says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” Jesus is persistent with us. The Bible is full of people turning away from God and God giving them another chance. That is our story too! We turn away from God and put other things ahead of Him. But He comes after us, He presents Himself to us. He stands at the door and knocks. He says “I am here, I want to be with you, to be known by you, please invite me in”. That persistence won my heart, hopefully you will open up to Him too, if you have not already.
2- We are all significant– God’s plan for us is the best. He sent his Son so that our lives could be saved from destruction. Living for Jesus gives our lives significance. Don’t lose sight of your significance. Take notice of what God thinks of you – He sacrificed His one and only Son for your life. He calls us to chose Him and asks us to share His love with others. Let that be your purpose, your motivation for life. Know you are significant and live your purpose.