The group divided into four teams and raced to form letters and numbers with their bodies. It took team work and analysis to use all team members in the effort. Next, each team formed a "dragon" by holding onto each others' waists. The task was to protect the "tail" from being tagged by another dragon team. Strategy was required to survive the dragon wars.
It was obvious that working together was critical in the three exercises. But one more activity remained. Each teammate was handed a personalized puzzle piece. They were given no instructions other than to assemble the puzzle. Following initial mayhem, leaders emerged and assembly began. "What shape is it?" they queried.
"Can't say. You'll know soon enough," I answered with a smile. Standing back, I continued to watch and listen. Soon, the entire group shouted when the last piece was arranged in place.
"It's a cross! It's a cross!" And with that, the lesson began.
"Yes. It's all about the cross. All about the cross."
"Look at it, guys. What do you see? Are you drawn to the names or to the cross?" I could see them begin to mull over the truth. "We've talked a lot about being "Team Peculiar" this year. We've challenged one another to make the most of every opportunity to represent Christ in everyday interactions and to see our athletics as expressly given for the glory of God. But listen, we fail as a team if people can't see that wonderful cross when they look at us."
I continued. "Everyone of us has a unique position and purpose in that cross. Our identity is fully embedded in that cross. But, what happens if I take out a piece? There's a hole, isn't there? You're eye is drawn to the 'hole' rather than the 'whole.' That vacancy detracts from the cross's glory. Can we begin to understand how important it is to embrace each and every one of our positions in that wonderful, magnificent cross?"
"As we go to the state meet tomorrow, what will other teams see? Will they see individuals running for themselves? Will they see swagger or less-than-best efforts? Or, will they see actions and attitudes that point squarely to the cross of Jesus Christ?"
With that, the team bowed in prayer to seek guidance and offer thanksgiving. Truly, it is all about the cross.