On Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, I was getting ready for an elders’ meeting to be held that evening at Grace Bible Church in Portage, Wis., where I was serving as interim pastor.
During the afternoon, I received word that Maranatha had made the decision to terminate its football program.
Having heard the news, I did two things. First, I sat down and cried. Second, I called my mom.
My mother, now in Heaven, was one day from her 82nd birthday. For most of her life, she tolerated football, at best, as she watched her two sons on the field. Amazingly, however, later in life, the sport really began to grow on her. She often said that she felt playing was less dangerous for me, being a lineman, than it had been for my brother—who had earlier played quarterback in high school—so she could enjoy it more. That seems to be where the transformation began. The Green Bay Packers’ resurgence during the 1990’s had a lot to do with it, as well. So, somehow, my mother shocked us all and lived the last quarter of her life as an ardent football fan.
As I relayed the news about Maranatha football to her, my mom told me something that I will never, ever forget. I can still hear the words, in her voice.
“Paul,” she said, “you just have to be thankful that you got to be part of it.”
In an earlier installment in this series, I shared the overarching lesson that I learned playing football in both high school and college, as drawn from the words of the Apostle Paul in Phil. 4:11-13: