It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of hockey catching on in the South was laughable. Well, nobody is laughing now. The hysteria surrounding the Nashville Predators has boiled beyond Middle Tennessee and it’s been interesting to hear comments and see Facebook posts from around the state supporting the Preds. No question about it; Nashville is definitely a hockey town.
There wasn’t an abundance of hockey to watch growing up on the Alabama Gulf Coast so needless to say; hockey really wasn’t on my radar until a few years ago when Jeanne and I were given tickets to attend a Predators game. We knew zilch, nada, nothing about the game, but we had a blast. The energy, excitement and the quickness were amazing. And the way those guys cross checked each other; I cringed with every hit. I was a little concerned by how much my sweet, godly wife loved hockey! Needless to say, we’ve been Preds fans ever since.
These days everybody is a Preds fan. Even Shaquille O’Neal is a fan. (Can you imagine Shaq on a pair of skates coming at you full speed? That’s a scary thought). And why shouldn’t everybody jump on the bandwagon? It’s a great story. Nashville has a hockey playing Predator named Cinderella. It’s been an amazing run.
But the Preds barely made it into the playoffs. They started the season 2-5-1, the second worst start in the NHL. During the regular season they had the 15th worst defense, went 8-8 over their last 16 games and were 1-3 the final week of the season. They made the playoffs as a wildcard team on the last day of the regular season and entered the playoffs with the second worst record of any team in the 16-team championship series.
However, they made it. First they swept the highly favored Chicago Blackhawks. Then they finished off their nemesis the St. Louis Blues. They then outlasted the Anaheim Ducks, and somehow, unbelievably, the Predators found themselves in the Stanley Cup finals playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup against one of the sport’s most storied teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There is definitely a lesson for all of us to learn as individuals and as churches. Yeah, they barely made it, but they made it. They could have given up those last couple of weeks rather than fighting until the end. At that point nobody expected much out of them and commentators on local sports radio here in Nashville were already serving up roasted saber tooth tiger for what they saw as underachieving.
Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds against them in the playoffs, they came together, displayed incredible teamwork and rose to the high level of play pundits were predicting before the season began.
The biggest thing: they didn’t quit.
Christian, church leader, no matter how difficult the odds may seem or how insurmountable the odds, don’t quit. That’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do. It may be at that very moment of most adversity that God presents to you the opportunity to make a difference. Seize it. Allow Him to work in you to grab a victory for the Kingdom. Our Lord is a victorious King and His greatest victories come through some of our most challenging moments.
But we must press on and stay in the fight. Keep at it. A harvest is coming.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.