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The Hobey Baker award is given to a men's NCAA player who best "exhibits strength of character both on and off the ice" and "contributes to the integrity of the team and displays outstanding skills in all phases of the game".  This year's recipient of the Hobey Baker award is Jimmy Vesey, left winger with Harvard and now a potential teammate with Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres.  So why do I mention Jimmy Vesey?

Recently I read an article about Vesey.  Jimmy Vesey's journey is a journey of patience and patience will be the topic for this PK.  The Nashville Predators drafted Vesey in 2012 in the third round of the NHL draft, 66th overall. Vesey chose to continue his college career at Harvard University, play hockey for the Harvard Crimson and graduate with a diploma from Harvard on May 26, 2016.  There is a rule in the NHL that if a player is not signed after 4 years after being drafted, that player becomes an unrestricted free agent.  So at 23, Jimmy Vesey will become UFA on August 15, 2016 and has already turned down the Predator's contract.  Jimmy Vesey was patient with his career and now has the opportunity to play hockey in the NHL at the top level where he wants to play.  Vesey's patience is to be commended, waiting for his time to shine.

As Christians, we need to have a patience that is dependent upon God not one that we manipulate to make things go our way.  James 5:7-8 says, "7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."  These verses are so rich in the fruit of patience and James demonstrates this through the example of a farmer.

First the farmer has to work hard to plant "the precious fruit of the earth."  How hard do you work in light of what God may do in your life?  Notice the farmer doesn't say "Lord, please make my land abundant with precious fruit of the earth but I don't want to go plant."  No!  The farmer is diligent in preparing the ground, planting the seeds and removing weeds that may grow amongst his seeds.  As hockey players, speed, agility and skills do not just happen.  Just like the farmers land, hockey skills need to be developed and practiced and attended to.

Second, in ancient Israel the farmers depended on the early and the late rains of the season to produce a crop.  The farmer needed to practice the things in the first point but also had to exercise a great deal of patience and faith that God would bring the rains to water the crops.  During a drought who has more faith, a farmer who prays for rains but does not plant or a farmer who prays for rain and actually plants his seeds?  In regards to hockey, while you are waiting for the opportunity to be selected for a team, how are you preparing?  Are you like the first farmer just praying for the opportunity or are you like the second farmer praying for the opportunity and developing your skills as a player?  While you are patiently waiting, what are you doing?

Third, James says in verse 8, you must also be patient.  In the original Greek this is an imperative, a command, not a suggestion to James' brothers and sisters in Christ to whom he is writing.  James says be patient (command) and "Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."  What does it mean to "establish your hearts?"  This leads to working on the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22, 23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."  James is saying be patient, work on your walk with Christ (Fruit of the Spirit) to be ready for the return of Christ.  We have no idea when Jesus will return for His church but we need to be ready allowing the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ.  Hockey players need to patiently wait for that "call up" to play for another team however you have to be developing and refining your skills just as we should be developing our Spiritual Fruit.

Further Questions

  • How's your patience?  With hockey? With your walk with Christ?  
  • Are there places where you need to develop your patience in your walk with Christ? With Hockey?
  • With whom are you impatient? God and His timing for your next step in the hockey world?
  • With what are you impatient?  Besetting, nagging sins that seem to conquer you? Your skill development?
  • How can you develop patience in your walk with Christ today?  

Dean C. Clark is a recent graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters in Christian Ministry.  He lives in Louisville, Ky. with his wife Raina.  The Clark's have 2 married daughters and have one grandson and one on the way.  Dean grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. and is an avid Penguins fan.  He is also a member of the FCA-Hockey Board of Directors.

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