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The Playoff Grind

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The Playoff Grind

By Henry Roy

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.(Romans 5:3-4)

It is that time of year for the hockey world once again. The time of year when the game pace and intensity quickens, the hits come a bit heavier and more frequently, emotions run higher and hotter, facial hair gets longer and more substantive, goals are typically more difficult to come by and overtime games are no longer decided by a 3-man shootout. As my pastor rhetorically likes to ask his congregation each Sunday prior to standing for the reading of the Word, "What time is it?!" is Playoff time!

Playoff time brings along with it a sense of finality and urgency wrapped in one. It is a time that separates the wheat from the chaff. A long season has already been played and only the select few qualifiers are eligible to prolong their season in an effort to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a championship. By this time of the year teams are well entrenched and players have endured and battled through the ups and downs of the season grind including injuries, close outcomes, roster changes and even tough losses. Thru this process, playoff teams and players have been honed and sharpened and have demonstrated the ability to persevere thru the so-called grind with the hopes and aspirations of lifting a Cup trophy still intact. Whether it is the Stanley Cup, Calder Cup, Clark Cup, Memorial Cup or any other Cup makes no difference. The playoff pursuit of a "Cup" is the culmination of winning the race that is set before each player and team at the beginning of the season at every level.

The apostle Paul often used sports metaphors in his writings, and in doing so, he consistently spoke of winning the race that God had called him, and henceforth us, to run (I Corinthians 9:24). He then went further on several occasions to describe the type of physical and mental training as well as discipline that was required to endure the inevitable hardship, testing and suffering that would be prerequisite to winning the race that he was running (Romans 5:3-4). Although the race that Paul often spoke of was not the race for a "Cup" but rather the race to pursue and live out an abundant relationship with Jesus Christ and embrace the calling on his life, the parallels are certainly in abundance. Today's hockey player must certainly embark on his season long playing journey with an attitude of faith in his team and his ability, a determined focus on striving for the finish line in search of the reward, and of course a desire to compete with perseverance and hope. In his letter to his protégé Timothy, Paul spoke of coming to the end of his days on earth (2 Timothy 4:6-8). In doing so, He confidently declared that he had finished the race and fought a good fight and as a result he was looking forward to the reward that would be bestowed upon him from the hands of a loving God.

Although the vast majority of players who lace up skates and compete for a "Cup" will never get to experience the exhilaration of embracing the "Cup" in victory, each and every person has the opportunity to experience the feeling that Paul spoke of in his letter to Timothy. We have all been given the opportunity to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ and to live out His calling for our lives. This is a life pursuit with a reliable and dependable reward structure that will last for eternity and not just a playoff season grind!

Discussion Questions

  1. Are you pursuing the type of race that Paul referenced?
  2. Do you realize that there will be a price to pay and that perseverance thru trials will be part of pursuing a relationship with Jesus?
  3. Are you striving for victory in the race that is focused on eternal rewards?

Additional Reading

  1. Hebrews 12:1
  2. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

About the Author

Henry Roy grew up in Massachusetts as a sports enthusiast.  He played multiple sports during his high school and college years including football, hockey and golf.  He spent time in college as a placekicker for Florida State University, where he was first introduced to Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the FSU Chapter huddles.  He resides in Massachusetts with his wife Shelly and sons, Jackson and Harrison.  His son Jackson has been a participant with FCA Hockey Chowder Cup and Christian Cup teams the past few years.  Henry has had the privilege of coaching youth hockey teams from mites to midgets for the past decade and looks to be as involved as possible with FCA Hockey into the future.

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