Written by Gary Steffes
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7).
In the days of King Saul in Israel, the Lord called Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint the next King from the family of Jesse. Jesse had eight sons. Samuel, when he saw the firstborn, Eliab, immediately looked at him and concluded he surely is God's anointed. He was likely tall, strong, mature looking, the picture of a real leader in that day. Yet, God saw what Samuel could not see. God saw beyond the outward appearance-- He saw the heart. The Lord warned Samuel of this and the day unfolded in the most unexpected way. As the story unfolds, seven of Jesse's eight sons passed before Samuel and none of them were chosen by the Lord. There remained but one left, the youngest, and he was not even invited to the celebration. Instead, having been written off by his family as not even a possibility of becoming the next King, he was left to tend to sheep in the field. David was summoned. The people stood eagerly waiting his arrival. Once he came, The Lord then said to Samuel, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he." (1 Sam. 16:12).
There are a few powerful truths we can learn as Christian hockey players from this story.
First, "...God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (v. 7). In hockey, it is so easy to get consumed with our outward appearance before men. As a professional athlete, this is a constant battle to not define myself by the world's standards. The world values players based on points, plus/minus, production, and performance. Also, in our world, future opportunities are believed to hinge upon today's stat line. With hopes and dreams rooted so deep within me, this only increases the pressure to become consumed with my reputation before men. Yet, this story speaks many liberating truths. God does not see as man sees. Our futures do not hinge upon our outward appearance, but rather the sovereignty of our Glorious God.
Like the story above, the hockey world is fighting to become like Eliab. The world believes a valiant outward appearance will bring significance, security, and make them rich with opportunity. However, as followers of Christ, truth liberates us to chase something higher and better. Instead of seeking to be like Eliab, we pursue to be like David-"a man after God's heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). David was faithful wherever God puts him, righteous, and excellent in even the most humble of tasks.
We understand from the above passage, our significance in life is not tied to what men say about us (David was a shepherd, the least of men in that day, and yet chosen by God to be the next King). We also learn, future opportunities are not tied to today's outward appearance. If God wants us to be King, we will be, even if man writes us off. God "causes poor men to sit with nobles and barren women to bear children" (1 Sam. 2:5, 8). If God wants something to happen it will. Therefore, we entrust ourselves to Him, letting go of the outward appearance, and seek to honor Him at the heart level. God has the power over our lives, not our outward appearance.
Lastly, one final note. The fact that God sees the heart and not the outward appearance is freeing to be sure, but it also calls us to a much higher standard as players. It is freeing because success does not hinge upon how impressive our stat line is. It is a higher standard because the box score is no longer the end-all-be-all. God sees how we actually played the game. God sees whether we give our very best effort every time we touch the ice. He sees how we play, work, and act when coach is not around. He sees how we treat our teammates, the motives of our hearts, and whether we cheat to get ahead or live with integrity. Every moment on the ice, the bench, or in the stands is before the Lord. We are called to a much higher standard of excellence than where the world finds satisfaction. Praise God for that privilege! But, O may we rise up and be faithful to that call!
- Do you wrestle to let go of your outward appearance and trust the Lord with your future? If so, in what ways? How might this story help you takes steps toward trusting God?
- What does it mean to be a man after God's heart like David?
- Describe what it would look like to play at the higher standard God calls us to. What do God honoring motives and actions look like on the ice, with teammates, and/or away from the rink? How might you start living to that standard today?
- 1 Samuel 16:1-13
- Luke 16:15
- Proverbs 16:1-6
- 2 Samuel 12:7-8
- Colossians 3:23
About the Author
Gary Steffes is an American professional ice hockey player. He is currently playing with the Allen Americans of the ECHL. Gary serves with FCA Hockey as a national representative.
Posted on Tue, December 29, 2015
by Rick Randazzo filed under