Last time I wrote about an icon of U.S. hockey broadcasting – Doc Emrick, and his faith in God. Today, I will do the same north of the border. I grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights. Coaches Corner was always an entertaining part of the program. In that brief segment during the first intermission, host Ron MacLean and former NHL coach Don Cherry would give their opinion about something that was going on in the hockey world at the time. Don Cherry tends to be a very divisive figure. He is loud (both in voice and in wardrobe), opinionated, and outspoken. He would occasionally spark controversy with his comments and people tend to either love him or hate him. But enough people loved him that he was named to MacLean Magazine (no relation to Ron that I know of) as one of the 10 greatest Canadians in history. I didn’t mind him most of the time. He is entertaining and passionate about hockey and I can get that.
But imagine my pleasant surprise when I came across this video that he did with Canadian T.V. host Lorna Dueck
In this video, Cherry speaks of a desperate prayer that he made at the age of 36, worried about what the future would hold. He felt God answer his prayer by telling him to “go back to hockey” and 2 years later, he is coaching in the N.H.L. In the book “Along Came God: Miracles in Everyday Life” by George Slater. Cherry tells his journey from being unemployed to His successful return to hockey. The credit? Cherry says “I remember my first game behind the Boston bench[…] I thought back to my room in Rochester where I couldn’t get a job sweeping floors and how I asked the Lord for help and to show me the way[…] In only three years He pointed the way back and I was on top of the world. In just three years, and they say there is no God!” The Lord rescued me in my darkest hour. If you are having a hard time in life like I was and you believe, He will help you”.
Here are my takeaways from Cherry’s story:
1- Pray for Help and Be Willing to Work – Cherry had reached his end. He prayed for help and God directed him back to hockey. But he had some work to do to get back in game shape. He was 25 pounds overweight. He was 36 years old. But he worked hard to lose the weight and get back into game shape and made the team. God has a plan and power to carry out that plan but he also gives us the chance to be obedient. Cherry trusted God and went to work. What has God called you to? Are you ready to put in the work of obedience to Him? If so, prepare yourself. He can take us far beyond our greatest dream or our most extravagant imagination.
2- Ready to Give Back – Near the end of the interview with Lorna Dueck, Cherry talks about speaking with kids, talking about the hard issue of suicide. Now I don’t know how close Cherry was to going down that road, but he says repeatedly in the articles that I read that it was his darkest, most depressing time of his life. That was when he called out to God and God answered his prayer. Now he is speaking to those who are battling through some dark days. He spoke in the interview of second chances. We have all been given a second chance. (and many more than that even). We deserve death as a penalty for our disobedience to God, but Jesus paid that death penalty for us and offers us a second chance.
3- Who do you worship – The interview and the stories that I read often referred to hockey as the national religion of Canada. Sadly, I think there is some truth to that – but it is not just a problem of Canadian hockey fans. We all have things that we worship and make more important than God. Work, family, money, stuff, celebrities, just to name a few examples. But in the end, all of those will fall short and let us down. God is the only One that is worthy of our worship. Let’s keep Him as the focus of our life and let’s save our worship for Him alone!
4- No expectation of perfection – The temptation can be to think that so-and-so can’t possible be a Christian – look at what they say or what they do. I’ve seen them ____ fill in the blank with a sin or behavior that is unacceptable for a Christian to do. And there is something to be said about the fruit that our lives produce. But would I ever hate to have that lens pointed at my life. Cherry knows that he is still messes up. ““I always get a guilty feeling about them, and I try to smarten up the next time.” I hope that we can all understand that we make mistakes and learn from them.