The Stanley Cup has a great way of reminding us that life is not fair.
Let’s prove that point. John Adams was the third string goalie for the 1970 Boston Bruins. He was on the roster but wouldn’t play his first NHL game until 3 seasons later. He would only appear in 22 NHL games in his entire career. But when the Bruins won the cup in 1970, Adams’ name was engraved on the Cup. Contrast that with Phil Housley. He played in 1495 NHL games with 8 different teams without playing for a Cup winning team. That is the record for most games without a Cup. It just doesn’t seem fair.
Mike Emrick is a voice that hockey fans in the U.S.A. know well. He is the primary voice for NBC’s hockey coverage so his voice is familiar. But it was in a different setting recently where he used his voice to share another example of perceived unfairness. Here is a message he preached at his home church in St. Clair Michigan as recorded on the Hockey Ministries International website.
Emrick shares the story of Brad Stuart who in 2008 was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Detroit Red Wings. He played in only 9 games with the Red Wings in the regular season, but was with them for their playoff run in which they successfully won the Stanley Cup. As the Stanley Cup winnings were divvied up and the rings handed out, Stuart received the same portion as those who had been on the team all season. No one complained, no one really gave it a second thought. Emrick compares that to the parable from Matthew 20 where a land owner agrees to pay some workers for a full day of work. He goes back throughout the day to hire more workers. At the end of the day, he starts by paying those who were latest to arrive a full days wages. Those who put in a full day then expected a bonus. When they were paid what they agreed to, they complained. It is an interesting take on the story and a great demonstration of how the ultimate reward is shared equally among all who participated, regardless of their participation both in heaven and in hockey.
Continuing, Emrick shares the story of a boss of his who “was a big, bombastic man. He was not known by any of us as a Christian“ At the boss’ funeral, he shared the story of his boss’ acceptance of Jesus as Savior in his last days. It was met with many surprised, even disdainful looks from those in attendance. And I know that we are all capable of the same. It is hard to grasp a grace that extends to those who lead a rough or hard life, but come to faith in God after their indiscretions or in their final days. I am guilty, too. I know that writing this blog, I have come across the stories of athletes who have a checkered past, but have come to a true and genuine faith in God. I am tempted to doubt the legitimacy of their faith or at least expect that I am somehow due a higher standing than them. But that is flawed thinking. I mean, are they deserving of any less reward than I am? No way. I have my own checkered past, too. I am a sinner who needed grace to be extended to me. I still need it every day. The plank in my eye clouds my vision and seems to magnify the specks in the eyes of others so it looks much larger than mine. (Matthew 7.3)
I appreciate the reminders like this message from a hockey sportscaster which reminds us to not get caught up in comparing ourselves to others or questioning who God offers grace to, and instead celebrate that we serve a God that is powerful enough to change all hearts and extend grace to everyone.
Here are some points to ponder.
1- Our Great Savior – The amazing thing about Jesus is that He died to offer grace and forgiveness to all people. I heard singer Derek Webb talk about having an awareness of our sin and when we come to terms with the depth of our sin, we begin to understand the greatness of our Savior. Let’s be real with ourselves and understand the desperate need that we have to be saved from our rebellion, bad choices and mistakes. As we understand our own desperate need for Him we can really celebrate that He DID pay the price and offers freedom from our sin. And whether we come to this understanding at a young age or in our last breaths, His offer remains vaild for ALL who chose to believe in Him.
2- Do you Love what you Do? – In this article from Geneva College, Emrick talks about doing a job that he loves. He says “A man is very lucky if God gives him a job he enjoys.’ I am lucky, that’s for sure. I know if it weren’t a calling, I would have probably found something else along the way. It is a wonderful job and I am grateful for it.” I wanted to do his job. My dream in high school was to be a hockey broadcaster. God however had different plans for me. But I am OK with that. He has brought me to a job that I really enjoy and in the process he has brought out gifts and interests that I wouldn’t have guessed were in there. What do you do? How has God led you to that place. How can He use you for His purposes in the place he has put you? God’s plan is the best and if you trust it and see it develop, be grateful for how He is at work!