Happy New Year from Living Up to My Name. When I was a teenager, I didn’t really get the new year celebration. I didn’t really have much in my life to get excited about. I struggled to find a purpose for my life and every opportunity to look back at what the past year had held often left me feeling sad, unfulfilled and without direction. Then things started to change. God proved himself to be true, I met the woman that I would marry and my life began to have purpose. Steph and I were married on New Year’s Eve in 2004 and so for the last 11 years, ringing in the New Year took on a new and exciting meaning for me. And now I really enjoy this time of the year.
And today, as a sports fan, hockey fan and Boston Bruins fan, I get to watch one of the coolest sporting events of the year (and I likely mean that both literally and figuratively) The NHL Outdoor Classic this year will be played at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
And since the game will feature my favorite hockey team, imagine the giddy excitement with which I share the story of a member of the Bruins – Adam McQuaid.
Born in Charlottetown PEI, (I also enjoy sharing stories of fellow Atlantic Canadians) McQuaid was a second round draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005. He was traded to the Bruins before playing a professional game and has been with them at the NHL level since the 2009-2010 season – including winning a Stanley Cup in 2011. But it was this article from the Boston Globe that really excited me about Adam McQuaid. In it we read about how McQuaid has grown to be more bold and outspoken about his faith in God and the role that it plays in his life. Injuries are a part of a hockey career and it was during the battles with various injuries that McQuaid sustained that his faith in God strengthened. The article says “He rededicated himself in the fog of doctor appointments and rehab, with pains and aches dragging on his mind and his career. This, he thought, maybe this is the reason I’ve had to go through all of this. Maybe it was to bring me closer to my faith.”
He has begun attending a non-denominational church in suburban Boston where he is able to remain somewhat anonymous. The article shares a funny story about one Sunday when he went to church. “At the start of the service, the congregation is encouraged to greet those in the seats near, to shake a hand or two. The man sitting one row behind McQuaid reaches out, looks in McQuaid’s eyes. “Basketball? Take an elbow to the face?” he asks, noting the blackened left eye and the stitches on the cheekbone.
McQuaid shakes the man’s hand. “Something like that,” he says.”
Here are my takeaways from McQuaid’s story
1- Personal Journey with others – Our faith journey is one that we take alone. We have to chose to follow God and make our relationship with Him our own. But there are others around us that are also trying to live out the purpose for their life by following God. In this article, the players mentioned were encouraged and excited to find out about other believers in the league. McQuaid took lessons and challenges from the stories of Tony Dungy, Tim Tebow and Clayton Kershaw. It is this very reason that I started this blog in the first place. My faith is not in the men that I write about – they are all flawed like me – but a very real God is doing very real work in their lives and so their stories encourage me to follow God and thank Him for the way he works out His plan in our lives. How have you been encouraged in your faith walk by the stories of others? How can your story encourage others who are living for God around you. Let’s live out this personal journey of faith in God, but let’s also celebrate that there are others around us that are living for Him, too. Let’s encourage one another and build each other up.
2- Exposed – In the article, Dan Hamhuis, talks about being a Christian in an NHL locker room. He came to the NHL with the Nashville Predators, and there were other believers there so “He was comfortable, he said, and “not afraid if it came up that I was going to be exposed (…) In a hockey dressing room if you do anything out of the norm you’re going to get called out on it, whether it’s a funny hat you wear, a new pair of shoes, or a bad haircut,” said Hamhuis. “So you’re always kind of on guard and aware of yourself. In matters of faith, it could be something that guys might give you a hard time about, and if you’re not real mature in your faith, you might not be comfortable defending it.” It can be a delicate thing. The Bible is clear that we are to acknowledge God before others and I know that to be true but to really share the truth of who God is and how important He is to your life requires an effort to not frighten or alienate people. We need to earn a place to be heard. Let’s be true to Him and not hide the importance He plays in our lives while being loving to others. Let’s allow our words and presence in the lives of people who don’t know God represent Him in a way that will invite them to see the difference He can make in their lives.