From the Rev: Coming Back

Apr 21, 2013

To be honest, I have been discouraged. This season has not started as I might have hoped – as a chaplain in professional sport sometimes we derive a lot of encouragement and energy from meeting with players and studying the Bible or doing life at some point during the week. It has been difficult to get things going – perhaps its all the new faces, maybe its just a different generation, maybe its me. But Saturday night, I was reminded of something that is much more vital in terms of our chaplaincy work. You might even say it is more vital in the space of our work as Christians. Let me share this with you in the telling of a short story.

He walked with a casual gait. It had been a long, difficult game. Away from the confines of home, it was the team’s first win of the season. A smile. But for him, the game held so much more significance. Two years ago, almost to the day, this young man had left the same stadium but in an ambulance. His leg broken in two different places, he would need emergency surgery to save his leg. His dreams of playing football in jeopardy. April 22. It was Good Friday, but for him perhaps it was too difficult to call anything that day or in the days to follow good. There were many questions about whether there would ever be an Easter-like resurrection for Steve Zakuani.

Zakuani is stretchered off in 2011.

I don’t know if he remembered me – whether jumping in the back of the ambulance to pray before he left the stadium for the hospital, or visiting post-surgery and praying around his bedside, or helping get him to the airport and home to Seattle on a private plane or taking his father to the airport. But as I spoke with him in the hallway after the game, I encouraged him to keep working hard, to keep coming back. Sometimes, this is what our faith needs – we need an encouraging word in our lives to keep us working hard and seeking the Lord. Whether in the midst of discouragement or adversity, we need to keep coming back or as someone once put it “it’s not that saints never fall, but they get back up.” By the grace of God, we fall down, we get up.

As I drove away from the stadium and pondered the seeming full circle that two years had brought, I was moved to consider my own discouragement. Maybe I felt that the “ministry” work was broken or some of my own hopes and dreams shattered. Maybe I have simply fallen into the trap of wanting to influence a lot of people, rather than being content to work in the lives that God has called me to for the moment – chaplain or  pastor, we sometimes want to touch as many lives as possible. But numbers aren’t important. Accolades, or recognition, or “success” (whether from a worldly perspective or Christian subculture perspective) isn’t important. The important thing is being present, being faithful to this call. The important thing is to keep coming back, back to a place where God can use us in whatever way He chooses, or in whatever way He chooses not to – it’s His prerogative. Coming back until He asks us to go or do or be somewhere, something, or someone else.

God help Steve. God help me. God help us in coming back.


Rev. Brad Kenney

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