It’s always really encouraging to see a current professional player take the time out of their busy schedule to come to camp. Drew MacIntyre is one of those guys, coming to camp many summers now even as a busy pro hockey player. This past Christmas, Drew had the amazing opportunity to represent team Canada in a well known tournament called the Spengler Cup. I was able to watch a couple of the games on Sportsnet and it was so cool to see him play on such a big stage. What made it especially cool to watch was seeing a simple cross painted on the chin area of his helmet. It wasn’t hidden amongst other graphics or slapped on the back, but I mean right on the chin where every camera can catch it. As I watched, I couldn’t help but think of others watching as well, being exposed to the cross and perhaps being reminded of what Jesus did on that cross. This simple representation of faith makes me admire Drew so much.
Unfortunately, Canada didn’t win the Spengler Cup this year. They had a really good team but were not able to overcome some major obstacles. And ultimately, this resulted in Canada’s failure in achieving the big prize. How many of us have experienced losses? There are losses in hockey that I still look back and cringe at. They don’t feel good and there is a subtle sense of bitterness. But you can’t do anything about past losses can you?
Beyond hockey, we all have faced losses during our life. Regardless of what those losses look like, they don’t feel good. They come in different magnitudes and they leave us feeling sad, lost, helpless, and hopeless. Maybe there are losses in your life that leave you feeling ashamed, guilty, and worthless. I don’t know each of your losses, but I do know that at some point in our lives we have faced loss or are currently facing loss. If you have managed to escape facing these in life so far, without a doubt they will be coming.
Drew helped at hockey camp when I was a camper and one year he happened to be traded to my favorite hockey team. I excitedly wrote to him exclaiming my joy for the trade and asked him a few questions regarding hockey and life. Drew responded with impacting words. He wrote this to me several years ago and its advice I have carried with me since. In response to how I could become a better hockey player he said, “Try to get as much ice as possible and work as hard as you can to maximize the gifts God has given you. Try to play at as high a level as you can and believe in yourself. You’ve already won by being a child of Christ.” Let me repeat the ending one more time: “You have already won by being a child of Christ.” How does that carry out in our lives? What does that mean? “You’ve already won by being a child of Christ.”
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians about the concept of victory. It reads, “O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of the sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see, God created this earth, and us, with a purpose and a plan. God also sent his only son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. So if we accept that we are sinners, ask for forgiveness to a compassionate, loving God, and allow Jesus into our hearts, only then can we experience true victory. True victory isn’t a Spengler Cup, the Stanley Cup, scoring more goals than everybody else, or even doing everything in life right. True victory was when Jesus, our perfect example, defeated death. He appeared to be beaten and dead but three days later He rose again. You see it’s nothing we did or anything we can control. It was Him who showed us true victory. Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This past summer young hockey players across the world have had an opportunity to respond, and many did experience God’s calling on their lives. At camp we hope to show young hockey players what it means to be a child of God, and how that means victory. We do this in times like chapel,in team meatings, but also on the ice, during dryland, and whatever else we do. This is a hockey camp, and no doubt campers come away better hockey players, but HMI exists to see hockey players come away better people too. I pray that God accomplishes these things through us.
No matter what the losses our campers have faced, are facing, and will be facing, with Christ they have already won by being His child. In your own life, you will always have an opportunity to respond to that reality. The reality that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, that you are a sinner in desperate need of a victorious Savior. So wherever you are, invite Him into your life, and let Him change you from the inside out.
Until next time (God willing),