1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 - And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
I suppose there are many things more competitive than high school football. I just can't think of any.
That being said, I was impressed by a story which concerned a recent game between the teams from Atlee and Varina, in Virginia. It seems Atlee has a player; his name is Sepp Shirey, who was born with cerebral palsy, an illness which makes it difficult for him to walk without crutches.
That's difficult, but not impossible.
Because Shirey can get around a bit, his coach, Matt Gray put him into a game. As he did so, he let Stu Brown, the coach of the Varina team, know what was happening. Initially, Coach Gray asked that the Varina team only "tag" Shirey, and not tackle him. That request was changed when Shirey's father said something like, "No, let my son get tackled. He should have the full football experience."
The Varina team lined up with full permission to sack Shirey. The ball was snapped and handed off to Shirey who, without his crutches moved toward the scrimmage line and the waiting Varina players.
Well, I have seen the tape of the game and I can tell you, as his father had hoped, Shirey got the "full football experience." Only it was not the experience his father -- or either of the coaches -- had expected.
You see, when Shirey got to the line, it opened as cleanly as the sea opened up before Moses.
The Varina players and the Atlee players joined together encouraging Shirey to keep going. Holding on to that football instead of his crutches, Shirey slowly, painfully, courageously made his way downfield: 10 yards, 20, 40, 60, 70, 80 yards. Shirey crossed over the goal line and collapsed into the arms of his encouraging teammates.
Now I don't know if those coaches and those players are Christian. I do know that every one of them seems to have a grasp of the Bible verse that appears at the top of this devotion. All of them, every one of them, was encouraging, helpful, and patient. All of them, every one of them, tried to do good to an individual who needed that kind of support.
It is a lesson every church -- every Christian -- needs to remember.
We have been given a Savior whose life was sacrificed to win our forgiveness and salvation. Because of Jesus blood-bought offering, and the faith which is placed within us by the Holy Spirit, we shall, someday, cross the goal line and get into heaven. But the run toward the goal is not an easy one.
There are many on the opposition team who would be glad to tackle us, and not all of them are as kind as were the players from Varina, Virginia. This is why we need to run interference for the Savior's followers so they can, like Shirey, someday cross the goal.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are all kinds of forces that do their very best to stop believers from ever crossing the goal line into heaven. Grant that we who are part of the church may do our best to be of assistance to those who are having difficulties and struggles. This we ask in the Name of our risen Redeemer. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Eric Kolenich on October 31, 2017 for the Richmond Times Dispatch. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: click here.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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