“Back to Basics” & “The Weekend Word”

As I alluded to in my last post, I have been struggling lately with what to write.  I’ve given it quite a bit of thought, and I realized: I’ve been writing a lot, just not in the way of making up something meaningful….which was really about me getting out what I had to say, and making myself feel good in the process.  The chase….writing cutting-edge blogs that everyone will find mind-blowing, boosting the visits to my blog, and heck, maybe even getting noticed and published….it sucked me in.

But that’s not me.  I’m best when I’m writing for others – telling their stories, writing to make their lives a bit brighter, writing to raise thoughtful questions we all face.  And it’s time I get back to that; because it’s why I started this blog in the first place.

Lately, I’ve taken on a new role: the “unofficial” chaplain of the Old Dominion University wrestling team.  As many of you know, I have a relationship with the program….it’s been a lasting influence in my life.  A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by the coach of the program, who realized his athletes have religious needs in their lives – it plays an important role in their lives.  And so, for the athletes who desire it of their own decision, I offer a bible study on Monday evenings, ending our time by sharing the sacrament of Holy Communion.  And for those athletes who desire it, I meet with them individually, providing a listening ear and caring presence that isn’t influenced by their coaches or teammates.  And I’ve been writing the “Weekend Word” for them each weekend going into competition…..some words of encouragement and motivation, from the perspective of faith.

So I’m going to simply start posting those from now on.  Other programs are free to use them as they come across them.   I’m not worried about credit….for me, it’s about the opportunity and privilege to give back to the sport I love in a unique way – as a wrestler and pastor.

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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”  And I said, “here am I; send me!” ~Isaiah 6:8

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “next man up.”  Teams have used that to express that everyone needs to be ready to go, to step up and perform for the team, when their name is called.  When the opportunity arises, you have to be ready, you’re the “next man up.”
That’s what I hear in this verse from Isaiah: God calls Isaiah to be the next prophet for Israel and Judah, and Isaiah responds, “Here I am, send me!” Next man up!  When the opportunity arises, how do you respond?  Do you respond with confidence and courage, with excitement?  Or do you respond with hesitation and fear?
Here’s the thing: this isn’t so much about you choosing the correct attitude as it is being reassured of what’s already true.  God reassured Isaiah he had the skills and gifts to be prophet, and that Isaiah’s worth was already assured before he began his work as a prophet.
Like Isaiah, you have the gifts and skills to do great things.  Like Isaiah, your worth is already determined in God’s grace before you set foot on the mat this weekend.  What a great opportunity you have before you this weekend:  #6 ranked team in the nation, in front of the home crowd!  Be reassured…..find confidence and courage in that reassurance….and when your name’s called, when you step on that line and face your opponent, say, “here I am.”
Next man up!

 

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