Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I was 11 years old when the Broncos lost their first Super Bowl with John Elway at the helm. And 12 when they lost the next one. And 14 when they lost the next one. My early sports memories are littered with fun regular season and playoff memories, only to have them dashed by Super Bowl fears.
As the Broncos entered something of a dark time in the early to mid 1990s, my high school baseball career started. We had some good teams, and we all knew we had a shot to win it all during my senior year in 1992. The team had a wonderful balance of experienced leaders and young talent. We worked our way to the state championship game only to lose in the bottom of the seventh to Cherry Creek. The Denver Post caught me embracing our pitcher after he gave up a walk-off home run:
Years went by and second place seemed to be a place of destiny. Time and time again I was a part of teams who finished the year looking at next year. It wasn’t until Elway broke through in Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIIII that I felt the universe wasn’t against me. I might win a championship some day.
I decided to get into coaching, largely to try to heal the wound left by a championship loss. In 2006, our team had a similar mix that I had experienced in 1992 - experienced leaders and young talent. This group worked through a miraculous season all the way to the championship game only to lose in the bottom of the eighth inning on a squeeze bunt. Second place again.
Since coming to Valor nine years ago, I’ve been witness to team after team winning state championships. Our baseball team kept knocking on the door, but came up short over and over again. It was maddening at times. What was the Lord trying to teach me and the players?
Ultimately, last week’s Bottom of the Ninth captured those lessons. We needed to release and be free of the burden of past wounds, and focus on the relationships before us today. God instilled this want in us to win and experience the dogpile at the end of the season. We had to dump our individual desires into the desires of the greater good we call a team. It didn’t matter who came through as long as someone did.
And come through this team did. I could name each one and cite every moment, but every effort from every player mattered in some way. We talked all season about making memories and forging relationships. The team did this every step of the way. They all mattered. Every moment. Every relationship. Because we had our focus right, we experienced a holy want granted.
I don’t believe that this is going to happen to every team in this way - focus on relationships and you'll win. That would be prosperity gospel and that’s not truth. However, if I’ve learned anything, the relationships built in good times and in bad can last a lifetime. Whether it is sports, business, or life, relationships with each other and our Lord are all that truly matters.