I am on vacation in Canada this week, and so, as a tribute to my Home and Native Land, I am going to share the story of the guy who has one of the most pressure filled jobs in all of sports – Starting goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are neck and neck for being the team with the combination of craziest fans and tightest media coverage and scrutiny of any of the pro sports. They have the fans that are the most excited when teams are doing well and most vocal (as in booing) of teams that are doing poorly. They also have the tightest, most intense media coverage anywhere, and what I believe gives the Maple Leafs the edge at being the most intense place to play is that they have gone longer without a championship – it has been 45 years since they last hoisted the Stanley Cup.
So how do you deal with all that pressure? James Reimer (aka Optimus Reim)- the current Maple Leafe #1 goalie, leans on his relationship with God. As you can read in this article from christianweek.org, Reimer chose to follow God at a young age and even in hard times, his faith helped him persevere. And his rise to fame with the Maple Leafs is an amazing story, too. Read about it in this article from Chill Magazine. There is also a great article to check out from thestar.com
I’ve written on this blog about finding a way to express your faith in little ways. Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays and Matt LaPorta of the Cleveland Indians use Christian music as their walk up songs, Colin Kaepernick shares how his tattoos reflect his faith in God. Reimer has chosen to use his goalie mask to represent his faith in God. As you can see in the picture below, he has an image of Jesus helping Peter out of the water after Peter had been walking on water and began to sink.
Why that image? Because, as Reimer says,
“It’s my story, in a modern way. When Peter lost focus on Jesus, things began to go badly for him, but when he focused on the Lord and was confident in his faith then he had the ability to do anything. When Jesus walked on water and asked why did you doubt me, that’s how I feel sometimes. There were a lot of people who did not believe I would ever make it to the NHL but my faith carried me through.”
We can all tend to allow doubt to make us hesitant to act, but like Peter, when we step out in faith into something that seems challenging, unlikely or even impossible, we are amazingly met by the God who can do the impossible.