From The Rev: Snowed Out

Mar 10, 2013

Last weekend, the Colorado Rapids season home opener was postponed one day for snow. The build up to the storm had a flurry of comments from sports writers and fans – many proudly encouraging a good showing to the club’s opening game despite the inclement weather. Visions of players slipping and sliding, nicknaming the stadium as a type of “snow fortress,” fans singing full-voice in blizzard-like conditions, and playing with the dreaded “orange ball” (which still has never made an appearance in Major League Soccer) reminiscent of youth soccer games of long-ago filled the Twitterverse and Facebook status updates nearly non-stop until the club finally announced the postponement of the game to the following day.

The storm did leave some 8-12 inches of snow in the Denver metropolitan area. The team and league decided on the postponement for the safety of fans traveling to the game. And, while some fans were disappointed that the Rapids didn’t take the field, there were imaginably others (soccer moms with small children?) who felt relieved for the game delay. In reflecting on the events leading up to the game, I thought through the different times that league postponed or canceled games – there have not been many to my knowledge. Occasionally, a game like the postseason match last year in Washington D.C. is postponed because of inclement weather. And in 2001, the league ended up canceling 10 regular season matches because of the terrorist strikes of September 11. But other than that horrific occasion and the odd weather-related postponement, there has not been too many occasions for a game to not happen.

The snowstorm and delay reminded me of the ancient Hebrew proverb – Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21). I am not suggesting that God had a different intention or design for Saturday (though, He may have had one), but I do firmly believe that we must be careful in how we hold onto the things that we hold to.

A broken ankle forced Dean Ashton of Aston Villa to retire at age 26.

In professional sport, many times athletes and coaches make “plans” – it may be a simple as the game plan for a particular competition to something more long-range (for example, how much money one plans to make or how long one plans to play a sport). In life there are so many things that are not within in our control. The interruptions to the plans we have might come by way of injury, as a matter of preference (i.e. one coach or management’s philosophy or style, or for another reason). There are several warnings in scripture that remind us to be mindful of the transience of life – let alone our vocational pursuits. Life, career, fame, success – all of these things we must hold ever so lightly and we must realize Who is the grantor and giver of all good things.

In my work as a chaplain, I have watched many men struggle with when a decision was forced on them. It has been those who have a strong faith in God and a relationship with Jesus who have been able to weather and accept the changes to the “plan” that have come. Those without, struggle and continue to hold onto those plans – sometimes until the shame or embarrassment of trying to hold on becomes greater than any measure of success attained. Consider the multiple retirements of some of the most prolific athletes in our time (Brett Farve, Michael Jordan, etc.) and the immense criticism that they sometimes endured for their inability to accept the end of their playing careers.

So what is the antidote for “making plans” unwittingly and holding on too tightly? James 4:13-17 offers the needed serum for our hearts and attitudes:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Taking on an attitude which relinquishes control to God is how we ought to approach not only nature’s snowstorms but life’s other storms that we might face. And in doing so, we will save ourselves from disappointment and false pride and boasting and sin. It will ultimately go better as we give those things to God.


Rev. Brad Kenney

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