I want to share a story with you in closing. It’s a story I heard several years ago about a high school football player. I don’t know his name, or what number he wore on his uniform or anything like that. All I know is that this kid wasn’t really that great of an athlete. He played on the kickoff team, and was a second string linebacker but hardly ever played unless his team got way ahead. Even though this young man didn’t get to play very much, his dad was always in the stands to support him and cheer him on.
When it came time for his last home game, the last game of his senior year he stormed into the coaches’ office with a sense of urgency about him.
He said, “Coach, you’ve got to let me start tonight, please coach, please let me start tonight!” The coach said, “I know you’re a senior but I can’t make any promises. This is an important game, a game we’ve got to win if we are going to make the playoffs.”
But the young man begged and pleaded with the coach until finally right before the game started the coach said, “Okay, I’ll let you play the first series.”
The young man was so excited. He couldn’t wait to get out onto the field. When it finally came time for the defensive team to take the field, he was the first one in the huddle.
The first play from scrimmage the opposing quarterback handed the ball off to the fullback, but to everyone’s surprise this second string linebacker who hardly ever played nailed him in the backfield for a 5 yard loss.
On the next play from scrimmage, the quarterback went back to pass and the same young linebacker blitzed and sacked the quarterback for another 5 yard loss. The young man played with reckless abandon, like a man on a mission. In fact he played so well, the coach let him play the entire game. He ended up with over 20 tackles.
At the end of the game as he was running off the field, the coach grabbed him by the helmet and he said, “Son, what in the world got into you tonight? That’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen a high school linebacker play. I don’t get it. What happened?”
He said, “Well, coach, you know my dad has always supported me by coming to all of my games and cheering me on even though he’s blind.”
The coach said, “Yeah, I know who your dad is, and I know he’s blind, but what’s that got to do with the way you played tonight?”
Then the young man said, “Well, you see Coach, my dad died last night and I know that He is in Heaven tonight, and that this is the first game he’s ever been able to see me play. That’s why I had to play. I was playing for him, and that made all the difference in the world.”
Contributed by: Matthew Sickling