This is another chapel talk outline from just last week. It was a disappointing season for Saluki Football. Coming into this week’s game we knew our record could end up either 4 and 7 or 3 and 8. Neither one was very appealing and neither was what we had anticipated on August 6 when we started pre-season practices. Seventeen of our players also knew that by day’s end, they would be former football players as their careers in the sport would likely be completed. To top it off, we were to play a team over which we held an eight game winning streak, but that has seen a remarkable resurgence this year. They are nationally ranked and could make the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs if they were to win this contest. It would seem that they have more to play for than do the Salukis. All these factors led to my choice of subject matter and Bible text.
My introduction was the dictionary definition of “persevere.” “To persist in a state, enterprise or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement.”
• This season you have persevered in spite of counterinfluences, opposition and discouragement.
• This afternoon’s game will require similar perseverance of you in order to succeed.
• Our seventeen seniors in the room today have persevered for years and I’m confident will continue to do so.
I asked for a volunteer to open the chapel in prayer and senior safety Mike McElroy did so.
The quintessential Bible text about perseverance is James 1:12. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (I read it aloud.)
• The man who perseveres is blessed – he is contentedly happy.
• The man who perseveres is proven – the process itself makes us better.
• The man who perseveres receives a reward – in this case it’s a crown, promised by God for those who love Him.
For the Salukis to compete like champions on this day, we must persevere.
• We must persevere through counterinfluences – those outside our team like weather conditions and a playoff hungry crowd as well as those in our own hearts and minds. Persevere!
• We must persevere through opposition. We face a good team today. Persevere!
• We must persevere through discouragement. There will be momentum shifts in today’s game which can overtake even the strongest hearts. Persevere!
• As we persevere today – we are blessed.
• As we persevere today – we are proven.
• As we persevere today – we receive a reward.
Let’s each and all persevere to the final horn of this season and then move ahead strongly into the next as we compete like champions.
I prayed to finish the chapel. I prayed in thanks for:
• The opportunity for each of these young men to play college football.
• The coaching staff for teaching and leading the players in football and life in general.
• The support staff for being consistent and loyal.
• The senior players who have invested years of their lives in this program and in their teammates.
• The returning players. Their best days are still ahead of them.
• Let us persevere like champions.
After 18 seasons of doing this I can occasionally see things coming before they happen. The weather conditions were less than ideal. There was a constant strong wind which wrapped around the east end of the stadium and swirled around making passing the ball difficult. The Sycamores were a much more skilled team than in past years. There were strong momentum shifts in both directions from our 21-0 half time lead, only to be tied at 21 at the end of the third quarter. Momentum shifted with turnovers and big plays, culminating with an interception by Mike McElroy at the one yard line to preserve the 35-28 win.
The team persevered through counterinfluences, opposition and discouragement. They were blessed, proven and they received a reward. This season’s reward was not in the form of a championship ring. My reward came in the locker room as I hugged a couple of players and heard them pour out their hearts into my ear. Even in disappointing, painful seasons there are moments when I feel immeasurably blessed to be given the opportunity to speak the truth of Scriptures and God’s enduring love with coaches and players on game day. It’s a tremendous privilege which I do not take for granted.