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Legacies & Legends - Part 4

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For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.
Psalm 149:4

Finishing up a Legacies and Legends Penalty Kill series would be incomplete without a discussion about hockey’s “Great One”. Statistically, Wayne Gretzky’s hockey status is otherworldly. He still holds roughly 60 NHL records encompassing regular season and post-season play with a gaudy nearly 2 points per game average throughout his playing career. He also led his teams to 4 Stanley Cup titles and was awarded 9 Hart trophies as the league’s Most Valuable Player in his 20 year career.

A much heralded superstar coming out of major junior hockey in Canada, Wayne was also known for his unassuming or perhaps humble nature. In his own words from his new book, 99 stories of the Game, Wayne declares “Greatness is not captured by statistics. It is captured in stories…..of hard-nosed guys from small towns who took on the world and made their mark. And I don’t think that I was any different from that kid or the kid down the street or across town.” Striking a similar chord by several personal accounts, Wayne never desired the spotlight or the attention that comes along with being monikered “The Great One”, yet he handled it with grace and humility as one of the game’s greatest off-ice ambassadors as well.

All too often we see today’s athlete revel in his or her own glory and seek self-fulfillment through their accomplishments at the expense of others. This was never the case with Wayne. He embodied a humble on-ice nature that was driven only to be the best player that he could be not just for himself but for the betterment of his team and teammates. Several of Wayne’s teammates testified to this throughout his career and again after his career as well, including the likes of Mark Messier, who once said that he was the best linemate he ever played with because of how unselfish he was and due to his ability to make everyone else better.

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Wayne Gretzky may be “The Great One” in hockey lore, but there is truly only one great one who has transcended time and space and left the right hand of God and introduced himself to a sinful and fallen world with a clear vision and intent. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus came to serve mankind with utmost humility and the service was manifested with paying the ultimate price which was reflected by His redemptive work on the cross. When reflecting on what the bible says about Jesus nature, work and character, it is evident that he did nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. I John 5:20

When reflecting on the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith through this series, we are presented with many great heroes of the faith or ancients, as they are referred to by the writer, that were used of God in unique and even miraculous ways. However, although these heroes of the faith are deservingly heralded for their obedience in action to the calling of God, none of them could fulfill the ancient prophecies, turn water into wine, walk on water, raise people from the dead, feed thousands from a few loaves and fish, and most importantly, pay the sin debt of all creation.

That was a task that only Jesus could and did perform. Therefore, His status transcends that of any and all “Great Ones” including Wayne Gretzky and the ancients of the faith. It is in Him and Him alone that we must place our trust, devotion and Faith.

Items for thought:

  1. Re-read Hebrews 11 and reflect on the type of faith the ancients employed. How does your faith compare?

  2. Read James 4:10 about humility and consider where you may need to improve your walk in humility.

  3. Are you focused on achieving and aspiring to greatness for your own sake or selfish ambitions? Or are you striving to use all that God’s given you to be the best you can for His sake?