Music pumped through the Nissan Rogue as we made our frequent winter sports trip to All Star Sports in Irondequoit. Caleb and Luke dialed in the tunes as we drove to FCA practice. The speakers in the over-packed car were muffled. I could barely see out the rear-view mirror.
Then, there was the stench that only a lacrosse family could appreciate. No new odor-blocking spray or high-tech material can contain the smell that comes forth from a dedicated athlete’s bag.
All of it added to our crew’s anticipation of a full night. It was a moment I didn’t take for granted—in fact, I’m thankful for it.
As we walked into the building, I was teeming with excitement. The next two hours my focus would be laser like. I quietly prayed and asked God to help me have a successful night. I was again reminded that this is the greatest opportunity in the world, an opportunity that He has uniquely and graciously given to me at this season of my life. I am so blessed to coach these young men.
My passion built as they filed into the locker room for huddle. My mind began thinking of all the communities where we have yet to see the FCA ministry established. It’s a dream that I believe God will bring to pass in the near future. In the moment, I was thankful for the next hours I was about to spend with the team, but at the same time praying that He would open more doors and lead us to more people so that more coaches and athletes can experience what is about unfold in that sports complex.
The boys settled into their metal folding chairs. A great buzz filled the room as they talked amongst themselves. As the group quieted, Coach Stein leaned forward and started the huddle with this question: “What is it you’re most thankful for?”
Before I had a chance to hear their responses, I was summoned upstairs as the huddle continued without me. It gave me a chance to reflect on the same question Coach Stein posed to our boys. My answer was simple and clear: I’m thankful for the Gospel, the Good News. I’m thankful for the reality that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NKJV)
I clearly recall the very moment in my life where that reality became personal to me. I will never forget the day I received forgiveness for my sins through the hope of the Gospel. My life has never been the same since God’s love for me became so undeniably real. In fact, this reality permeates every aspect of my life. By fully appreciating this each day, God’s amazing love overshadows the challenges, the adversity, and the distractions of this noisy and temporary world in which we live.
We all experience emotional mountaintops and emotional valleys. We all face significant challenges and adversity. God knew that our lives would be imperfect. Still, He demonstrated His unfailing love for each one of us by sending His son Jesus to earth. It is impossible to measure how thankful I am to God for this gift that has changed my life.
The huddle concluded and our team took the field to begin pre-practice stick work. My list of things for which I am thankful continues to multiply inside my mind, but the more I think about, the thing for which I’m most thankful for remains at the top of my list every year.
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.