Sea Turtles. That is what came to mind as I looked into the story of Calvin Johnson, elite wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. I would wager that it may be the first time the Pro Bowl wide receiver has ever brought up images of the aquatic amphibian. How did i get from point A to point B you ask. Let me tell you a story.
Calvin Johnson was the 2nd overall draft pick in the 2007 NFL draft after 3 years of outstanding play at Georgia Tech. He is a top 5 receiver (despite what Cris Carter may say ;0). He makes catches that are hard to believe, and has quietly become a star on a team that has not been very good during his time with them.
In this blog post from Another Day Another Opportunity, Johnson tells his own story. In it, I read about Johnson’s quiet demeanor, allowing the skills that he has to speak for him. I also read about his decision to live his life for Christ, as he joined teammates at chapel services and a retreat, where he was able to get away from practice, football, weight rooms, playbooks, drills, etc. and focus on who God is and what God was saying – Perspective!
The Lions has struggled for years, and continued to do so, even with Johnson on their team. They became the first team in NFL history to go winless throughout an entire season. What a discouraging thing. Anyone who plays competitive sports hates to lose, that’s why they call them competitive.
“Many times when a team is struggling, the last thing players want to hear is someone with an upbeat, positive message. But it was during those tough times that our faith and actions served as a powerful witness.”
Now if anyone can speak about a team struggling, it is a member of a winless team. What could someone on a winless team possibly be upbeat about? Here is where we start to get into the sea turtles.
Let me tell you about a trying time in my life. It was the summer of 2005. I was a base director for a missions organization, leading church groups on mission trips in Freeport, Bahamas. We were having some issues with staff, there was a crabby group that was complaining about lots of things from travel issues getting to our site, to plan changes, to issues with staff etc. I was the base director, so all of the issues were mine to resolve and deal with. It was weighing on me.
Every week, we took our groups to a reef for some snorkeling. And on our snorkeling day, I took all the weight from these issues with me out in the ocean. I broke the rules, and went off by myself. I put my mask and snorkel on and went swimming, thinking about all of the things that were going on. I was upset, praying for guidance but not really listening to any answer. Soon, I found myself swimming around, stalking a green and yellow turtle that I had spotted, swimming through the beautiful, clear blue water, and it dawned on me. All the issues that I was holding on to had blocked my perspective. I was in a beautiful setting, surrounded by God’s amazing creation that I am blessed enough to experience on a weekly basis. It is hard to stay in a bad mood when you are watching the life on the reef and seeing God’s creativity on display. I repented for my bad attitude, rejoiced at the fact that part of my “job” was snorkeling in Bahamas, and getting to work with lots of amazing groups to share God’s truth to a world that needs it. PERSPECTIVE!
Calvin Johnson played football on a team that didn’t win a game all year. He got left off a list of top 5 receivers when he likely should have been on it. Are these reasons to get upset and get down. No! And he doesn’t seem to have let it affect him.
I am reminded about Luke 10.20.
It says “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
The disciples were excited about what was going on in their lives. Jesus reminded them to keep it in perspective, and to know the real reason for celebration and rejoicing. I think this is true in good times and in bad. When things are going great, be happiest about your relationship with God. When things are going bad, remember that you have hope in your relationship with God. In all things, remember that the only reason we have to rejoice and celebrate is if we have a relationship with God.
I needed perspective when things were going bad – God is in control, and he is bigger than the issues that try to weigh us down. He cares most about the state of our hearts and that our hearts long and desire to worship Him and praise Him. If you know God, boast only in that, and if you do not know God, may your heart’s ache lead you to encounter Him and know he is the cure.