“Hope is not in our government, the stock market or employment. Our hope is in Him alone,” Brent Jones, former San Francisco 49er tight-end great, shared with a large audience at a National Day of Prayer gathering in 2011.
“People have often asked me, ‘Were you ever afraid of anybody? To cross the middle (in the defensive territory) and get hit?’” Brent, standing tall and confident in a suit and tie, chuckled, “No, I was more greedy for catches than consciousness!” The audience laughed.
“Even after winning two Superbowls, there was only one time I was afraid. Both we and the New York Giants were undefeated for a Monday Night Football at Candlestick Park, December 1990. A small group of us guys had talked for two weeks. We were going to do something no one had done before. At the time it was outrageous,” Brent remembered.
“Monday night came and guys started wavering. Late in the 4th quarter, doubts assailed; Should we really do this? What about the owners, the coaches? What will the leagues think of us?” we all thought. “One to two minutes were left. We hung on to a 7-6 victory. After the game, I scanned the other players. A few of us eyed each other. We signaled the 50-yard line. Slowly we started walking forward, past the 50-yard line, past the 30-yard line. Then, our small group stopped and stared. One by one, each of us planted one knee on the ground. Two guys in NY Giant uniforms ran over and grabbed our hands kneeling beside us.”
“Joy pulsed through our core. The bleachers still roared,” he said. “Two opponents in professional sports knelt and prayed together after a football game. It had never been done before. Up to that time, if coaches saw us talking, eating anything with the other team – it was death. From then on, it spread like wildfire. Other pro teams, colleges, high schools all began to openly share their faith.”
“We strove to acknowledge God to the world that day – to show those watching us that there was something more important than our lives; that life had more value than a football game. We wanted to give an example that we truly are one nation under God,” he proclaimed unashamedly.
Today there is fear in boldly sharing our faith; in proclaiming unashamed we serve a living God who overlooks the bad times and the good. One doesn’t need to look far to see what happens when you boldly proclaim that our true freedom comes from God. Look to how Tim Tebow, now quarterback with the New York Jets is publicly chastised and mocked for wearing his faith on his football jersey sleeve. But he is right to do so publicly and he carries on a proud American tradition.
While our history books water down the reason and circumstances surrounding the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth in 1620, they actually lived out their faith boldly. What could be more bold and daring than to openly defy the King of England, risk life and limb, and set out across the dangerous seas in late Autumn weather heading for a new, unknown land. Their tradition continued with the Black Robe regiment of preachers in those years prior to the Revolutionary war. Our founding fathers, too, were not afraid to speak out and honor God.
We need to strive to do that today. In the midst of turmoil when our country seems to be in a downward spiral, we cannot hide behind the skirts of approved political correctness. We need to proclaim that we are truly one nation under God and that our freedom comes from God Himself. We need to share the peace of Christ every way we can and our faith in a great God who grants hope for all our tomorrows. A heavenly hope that is not limited to the brown earth we walk and wrestle upon, but one that frees the soul to fly with faith like a bird soars on wind in skies that surround us daily.
Just as these Christian athletes like Brent Jones and Tim Tebow have sparked a national response of faith, we pray we can spark a deeper relationship of trust in God to those around us.
In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day. 2 Timothy 1:12