The short little clip below got me thinking about something many hockey players deal with each and every game. Maybe even for some practices!!
by Rob Globke
Everyone knows that many athletes, hockey players included, hold tightly to certain patterns of behavior. Whether it be the order in which they prepare themselves to play or how they actually go about doing the preparation, hockey players have many things which turn into routines. In all of this, many people seem to use some words interchangeably which muddy the waters when we look at these things from a biblical perspective.
For example, I just used the term routine to describe what many other hockey players might call superstition. While others might use the word ritual. So, how are we supposed to make sense of all this? Are christians wrong to practice the same pregame sets of behaviors? When does it become wrong? Is one (a routine, let’s say) good, while another (superstition) bad?
A great verse which helps us get to the bottom of this is found in Proverbs. This verse reads
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” - Proverbs 21:31
In this short, but very pointed verse, the writer of proverbs is speaking to this very issue. Of course, he is talking about preparing for war, not hockey, but it’s close enough. :-)
He starts out by reaffirming the truth that preparation is a good and important part of life. He reminds us that we are not simply supposed to sit around and twiddle our thumbs waiting for things to happen. We have a responsibility to plan, prepare, and get ready for whatever might be ahead in life, whether that be a game or a math test. In fact, we are reminded in Ephesians that God found it important to prepare as well. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
So, just as God prepares, we also need to take the time to get ourselves ready for what we are going to do or plan to do.
The writer of this proverb adds a qualifier. Something to remind us to not lose sight of the bigger picture. This six word ending to the verse speaks to who controls the outcome of everything in life….God Almighty. The end of the verse tells us that we can be as ready and prepared as we will ever be for an upcoming game, but only the Lord controls the outcome. There is no amount of routine or ritual or any other word you want to do which will sway the mind of God. Nothing you can do will impact the outcome of even a Stanley Cup game seven. Remember, it’s not saying, “Don’t prepare and let God handle everything.” It is saying, “I want you to prepare for this big game, but know that YOU don’t control what will happen.” You can have the best preparation and go through the most perfect pregame routine, but go out and hit five posts and watch the other team get a fluke goal off a shin pad. No matter how well you prepared, you still lose 1-0.
This is the difference between a superstition and a routine. Superstition says that our preparation and ways of doing things have a direct impact on the outcome of the game. This is putting our work ahead of God’s. This line of thinking is relying on man’s effort above God’s authority.
On the flip side, when we are willing to admit (in our hearts) that our preparation doesn’t ultimately lead to whether or not we win or lose, we avoid the dangers of superstition. It comes down to what you believe in your heart. You can have two players doing the exact same pregame preparation. One will be doing it thinking it’s the key to winning or losing. The other will be doing it knowing that whether they win or lose, this is the best way for him to be ready to play.
Which player would you rather be?
1 Timothy 4:7
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;