Finding God — and football — at church

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

I’m sitting in church very early last Sunday morning (Oct. 6) waiting for my daughter and her fellow choir members to sing. After the minister welcomed the first-timers and the parents of the visiting choir members, he began what was the intro to his sermon. At that point, I unconsciously started to drift away a bit.

Since it was a church I hadn’t been in before, I was noticing the architecture, the natural lighting, decorations, etc. The sanctuary was surrounded by windows on the left and right. My attention quickly shifted to the outdoors, and I couldn’t help but notice what a perfect fall morning it was.

The sun was shining brightly, and the air was crisp and cool. I thought to myself it would be an ideal day to catch the Bears at Soldier Field. Admittedly, my mind wasn’t on church, it was on football. The Bears versus the Saints at beautiful Soldier Field underneath the crystal blue sunny skies — I was almost there.

That’s when something pretty remarkable happened. The minister interrupted my daydream by asking if anyone knew who the picture on the video screen was. I looked up, and much to my surprise, it was a guy in an old-style football uniform from the very early days of the game. I recognized John Heisman immediately. Yes, he’s the guy the trophy is named after.

The minister told the story of how Heisman was the coach of the 1916 Georgia Tech team that beat Cumberland College 222-0 in the most lopsided game in college football history. He instantly had my attention back where it should have been. From that point on, I was listening as intently as anyone in that church.

The moral of the sermon was about revenge and forgiveness. Had it not been wrapped in the Heisman story, I most likely would have spent the majority of the service staring out the windows and missed the message he was delivering. Instead, I took home a valuable life lesson, and I was glad that I ended up listening and not ignoring what was being said.

I don’t think it was a pure coincidence that this sermon was delivered using a football-related story and I was there to hear it. While driving home, I couldn’t help but wonder: does God really know I’m that huge of a sports fan? Then, it dawned on me — of course He does, He knows and sees everything.

From the Oct. 9-15, 2013, issue

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