One of the highlights this fall for me has been the opportunity to coach my oldest son, Brennan, and some other fine young boys on their Upward flag football team. Upward is a Christian-based sports league that creates a positive environment for the kids to learn about God, teamwork and athletics. It's been a joy to coach.
Our squad had our last game this morning and finished with another victory due to a great team effort. We finished with a 6-2 record, including several games that went right down to the last play. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with Brennan (who has turned out to be a good little quarterback), but I truly enjoyed the chance to invest in the lives of these young men and help them develop as football players. More importantly, I could freely share with them about a relationship with God.
For those of you that knew me in college or before, you'll probably remember that I actually was planning on going into teaching and coaching. That had been my plan since high school until God got a hold of my heart. I remember a distinct moment in time when I had to make a choice whether I was going to do the teaching/coaching thing like I wanted or if I was going to submit this area of my life over to Jesus.
I was on a missions trip in the summer of 1994 and was having the time of my life. I was growing in my faith each day and seeing God use me in ways I didn't think possible. It was during this summer that I began to sense a call into vocational Christian ministry when I graduated a year later. Late that summer I received a phone call that forced me to make a decision about the direction I was going to go.
I had the opportunity to play for a tremendous high school football program in Michigan at Marysville High School. My coach, Walt Braun, is a legend in the state and is one of a small number of coaches nationally to ever win 300 games. (By the way, the picture on the right is of me and my dad in 1990 right before the start of my senior year.) Because of playing for such a good school, a good friend of mine that I went to high school with and myself got the opportunity to coach the eighth grade football team at a private Catholic school in Mount Pleasant where I went to college. We did such a good job at that level that the following year ('94) I received that phone call and was offered, along with my friend, the head junior varsity job.
As a college student seeking to make a career out of teaching and coaching, this was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up. I would be well on my way to a distinguished coaching career. But...God had other plans for me. Although I felt (and still do) that teaching and coaching are truly honorable professions, the Lord had made it clear to me that he had other things in store for me. After much prayer, I turned down the job so that I could be more devoted to building a spiritual movement on my campus.
Over time I have seen how God has honored my faithfulness to follow His call way back then. He has blessed me with a great marriage, tremendous kids and a position in an influential ministry that I am humbled by each day. Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I have certainly found this verse to be true in more ways than one. And, now, I get to have the privilege of coaching again and doing something that brings life to my spirit.
Every time I've made the choice to follow God's leading in my life, I've never regretted it. Even when things didn't make logical sense at the time, it always plays out for my good and the good of those I'm closest to. I'm glad to serve a God that chooses to bless us even in the little things of life simply because they bring us pleasure.