After completing the “Encourage a Brother” study with the coaches, BP and I agreed it would be beneficial to do that same study with the team. It is one thing as players to get encouragement from your coaches, but another when you receive encouragement from your peers.
The night before our Georgia game we gathered around before dinner, read through the verses and took time to build each other up. Some of the responses were fantastic and heartfelt. Our strength coach, who sat in the room, mentioned he was encouraged watching the players take a moment to build each other up.
As we ended the night in prayer we also talked about the situation with Damar Hamlin, the football player for the Buffalo Bills who collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest.
Damar is only 24 years old, in the best shape of his life, playing a sport at the highest level!
I told the guys that I was up all-night thinking about his mom, his family and the looks on his teammates’ faces. Can you imagine watching your teammate collapse and then watching him be administered CPR? It was a horrifying scene to watch on television. I can’t imagine what was going through the minds of the players as they stood there in person, helpless. Personally, I kept going back to the TV, checking my ESPN app for updates, but heard nothing.
I reminded the guys of the Malachi message we studied a few weeks earlier on giving God our best. That message was motivating and inspirational. However, I felt that there was another, more important, message that needed to be shared, one that many pastors don’t want to preach. It’s easy to preach motivational messages because it’s easy to tell people what makes them feel good. Sometimes it necessary to say what people NEED to hear instead of what they WANT to hear. The Lord convicted me and opened the door, and we ended our Bible study with real talk.
I reminded everyone that we don’t know when our last day on Earth will be. For some, when they see the LORD, that will be a beautiful day, the start of the best days, and the start of eternity with God. Everybody wants to hear that. But nobody wants to hear of another truth. The Bible says for others it will be a dreadful day, the start of eternal separation from God.
I said to the guys, “I know where I stand. Do you?” This is why 1 Tim. 4 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
This is the reason why I have been putting together studies on identity in Christ. We are more than just basketball players. We are children of the one true God.
I concluded by explaining I love them enough to tell them the truth. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not even promised to make it through tomorrow’s game. We have to know where we stand. Jesus teaches in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me”.
We will ALL stand before the Lord and then we will be held accountable for whether we accepted the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My final question was simply, where will you stand when you meet the LORD face to face? We can all ask ourselves that question.