I've never played hockey. I could never do the amazing things of sheer balance that any number of young high school boys can do, on the ice. They glide. They jump. They chase the little black sphere to wherever it is on the ice and, with a single slice they whack this little puck with all their strength, lifting it off the ice and into the air, sailing it on invisible wings, past any number of players, until at body height, it slams past the goalie trying to stop it, and goes into the net for a score. It moves so fast in those seconds that we, of unpracticed eye, watching over our television screens, don't even see the goal when it happens. But all the young men do and pandemonium grips the players and fans. People shout. Arms wave in the air. Uniformed boys on skates leap through the air into each other's arms. The place is full of wonder and excitement.
How wonderful to think just about hockey for those moments. Dazzling artistry of boys on skates. We marvel at the sight.
Some tall, rangy boys, already champions, are headed toward lives centered on hockey. As college players. And later - unbelievably - as professionals. To a world on skates. A world of cheers, adulation, into victories and defeats.
In my Advent and Lent early-morning Bible Studies at the Hilltop Restaurant, often sits a young man - now middle-aged, who scored the winning goal in the second overtime of the State High School Hockey Tournament, when his Edina High School team first won the State championship.
He is a leader in the community. He is a good and decent man. He helps people find a home of their dreams. He is a community volunteer. He delivers "meals on wheels" for two different churches. He is a patient, faithful father.
When our group of 15 or 20 gather, and after prayer, go around the table introducing themselves, he rarely speaks of his hockey triumphs. He talks of his life of faith, of being a boy of 14 going to church confirmation, and how that experience of learning the faith, and loving Jesus "built my faith foundation."
His middle-aged life has many challenges, but he carries on. He keeps the faith. He walks with Jesus. He is not afraid to tell the world Who the Lord of his life is.
It is a wonder to me. To see before me a man who knows what it is to be - in the world's terms - a hero, a great player of the game, but at the heart of his life to be a player of the greater game of standing tall, and being true - "doing justly, loving many, walking humbly with his God."
He does it humbly, this living of his life. And shows me how. It can be done. It really can be done.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES