Jesus at a Football Banquet?

 

One of my favorite questions asked weekly at a church I attended called The Following was, “where did you see Jesus this week?” It was a simple yet complex question… I called it the cricket question because people had to stop and think where did I see Jesus in my circumstances, relationships, challenges, victories… etc. Sometimes there was that awkward (insert cricket sounds here) kind of silence. The more we asked that question, the more people thought to look for Jesus in their day to day. To see him, you have to think to look for him right?

Well, last week I saw Jesus at our annual Saints Football banquet. At this event, we celebrate our season, the coach hands out awards, we hear from a keynote speaker, and of course, we eat. We also take the time to honor the seniors. Coach gives every one of graduating gridiron warriors an opportunity to share what being a part of the football program has meant to them. It is never easy to speak in front of people, much less a hundred parents and teammates, and yet they each, in turn, did a wonderful job.

Half way through the speeches a young man, whose privacy I will honor, stood and took his spot behind the podium. He pulled out his speech, took a deep breath, and with shaking hands and a courageous steady voice, began to share his story. Within seconds the room fell into complete silence. People leaned forward, hanging on every word as he, with Christ-like humility and vulnerability, shared his experience. He spoke of personal adversity, disappointment, setbacks, and challenges. He had such high hopes for his senior year it would have been a chance to start fresh, to be identified as a football player but an injury sidelined him before the season even started. Ironically as he reflected on his year what he discovered was God had other ideas and a different plan for his life. As this young man spoke of his faith, tears ran down our faces. The power of his story pierced our hearts, touching our souls, reminding us that in all things, especially the most difficult of things, God is working for our good. He had clearly found God. He had leaned on and trusted in the Lord, and you could hear the hope and faith he had in every single word.

I could feel the anointing and power his words carried. It was as if Jesus stood beside him, hand on his shoulder, sharing a message of hope and transformation. His story reminded me that Jesus has such great love for us. He alone has the power to give us beauty for ashes. When we surrender our lives to him, disappointments become hopeful expectations, messes become masterpieces, and losses become wins. Jesus has the power to take our situations and turn them so that they benefit us and others. In sharing his story, he triumphed over all the enemy had tried to destroy, and whether he knows it or not, gained far more than he lost. I firmly believe his desire to share his story was the beginning of something much bigger in his life… anointing like that is a special and powerful gift of the Holy Spirit. I will be praying for him to step boldly in his calling and continue to share his story. By the way, ironically, our football team is called The Saints. Fitting.

Lastly, I am reminded Jesus loves and is always with us. Nothing is too hard for him to handle, no situation too great, no life so broken it is beyond repair. He is capable and more than able to make our messes into masterpieces too.

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