The New Covenant Schools soccer team gathered moments prior to the Division II title game at the National Association of Christian Athletes tournament in Dayton, TN. The coach handed his captain a piece of paper. “Josh, would you please read this to the team? Drew (a former player) sent us a message.”
|The first NCS Championship Team (Nov 2005)|
The team listened intently, absorbing every word like a thirsty, dry sponge. “Well, team, it’s the big day: Championship Friday. Word has spread that you guys have put on a great show thus far and, judging from the brackets, you certainly have. The NCS soccer team hasn't been in this good of a position since this day six years ago, the same day they took home the title. I have faith that today your team, or should I say, "our team," has a legitimate shot at a Division II title. . . No pressure. I'm sure you know you have the backing of your fellow students and faculty but you also have the backing of your former students and teammates. Just remember that for some of you it will be your last shot that many of us former players never had. And for you non-seniors, understand you guys are partaking in something almost sanctified in the eyes of many. . . Enjoy it. Today is a very special day for you. Go out there and play with intensity, leaving it all on the field, knowing that some day you can look back and be proud. . . Finally, play being mindful of who you're playing for, the name of the school on your jersey, and the name of your Savior on your heart. . . Break a leg, Gryphons. Beat Chattanooga. Win or lose, I couldn't be more proud of you guys.”
The room fell silent save sniffles wiped away on shirt sleeves. The message penetrated, the soothing ointment of words seeping into every rusted cranny of the players’ souls. The significance of who they were, who they represented, was the oil needed to ignite the spark. They cried together, prayed together, and went out and won together.
The NCS soccer team was reminded of their connection to things much bigger than themselves. The team was not an island. It was just one more set of waves that followed all the others to the shore. The team was part of a constant tide that rolled in and out. They, like the team six years prior, simply capitalized on the opportunity to ride a huge swell.
A team must see themselves in the big picture or risk becoming self-absorbed. It’s not unlike a believer who understands he does not function apart from the millions before and those coming after him in the body of Christ. Embracing our heritage, we become mindful of who we are and from where we’ve come—and that makes all the difference in the world.
For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness (Psalm 26:3).