These thoughts will be in no particular order so Part 2 has nothing to do with Part 1. I hope to finish that up later.
“This is my last night. My last chance. This has been more than half my life. And now it’s ending.” July 4, 2010 at 11:12 p.m. That was the text I received from Christian while he walked around on the concourse level gathering his thoughts for the next day. It became a tradition for Christian and I to walk around and sit outside the room where the championship game would be played the next day – something we started in Georgia. We would talk about the day ahead of him, the teams that might give him trouble, we’d talk about the old days and we would pray.
It was a side of him that very few got to see – he kept his emotions in check very well, something that he had to learn so that he wouldn’t be laughed at. But when I called him and asked him if he wanted me to come down, I could tell that he had been crying – something he hadn’t done in the game since a last question loss in 8th grade to the Harlow boys in Round 7. He needed 6 of the last 7 in that game to win – he got five and then Spencer nailed a Keyword question on #20, putting the game away (again, I digress).
Those late night chats with everything on the line – those were especially sweet to me as a dad. Our last one, we talked about what it would mean if he won, what it would mean if he lost – teams that he expected to lose early because of this reason or that (he turned out to be right), we spent a good hour breaking down the bracket, strategizing on the games he had to play and finally, as always, we closed in prayer.
He stayed down there after I left at midnight – he needed to be alone. The game meant/means a lot to him. He never put it in these words but I think he wanted to be the Roy Hobbs of Bible Bowl. After the last game, there were several folks including two current coaches (who never coached him) who are legends in the game with sixty years of BB experience between them who said that Christian was the best ever. I think that is very kind folks to say but in many ways, it doesn’t really matter.
And I say that for a couple of reasons, first – in ten or twenty years there will be very few who remember who he even was. 20 years from now, he’ll most likely be known as the sponsor from “Put Your Church Name Here”, if he is still involved in the game. He got a little bit of a taste of that this year. These teams with young, hungry players that he had never heard of would jump up and beat him at the college tournaments and Christian would jokingly say, “They don’t know enough about me to be intimidated by me – I’m all washed up!” 🙂
The second reason why it doesn’t matter is because it is only the Word that he has memorized that will ultimately stand the true test. If Christian was to at some point shipwreck his soul and abandon his faith, the Word that he has memorized would stand to condemn him. Can you imagine being able to quote some 20 Books of God’s Word back to HIM as you stand before Him in judgement? It honestly makes me shutter. That is why it is so important to remember that you are memorizing, not some ancient, dead text – but something that is living and active, sharper than anything – something that judges the thoughts and attitudes of YOUR heart. Never, ever lose sight of that no matter how many championships you have won.
KC was an 8th grader when Christian came into the Round Robin, and was just figuring out the game – we never have had beginner bowl – and was always wanting to outscore Christian in the tests – and the few times he did, he counted that a victory. He never had quite the dedication and work ethic that Christian did.
But, Rick – our boys – yours and mine – have a treasure stored in the minds that God gave them that is beyond counting or calculating. I know they are both going to affect the world in different ways, but both in ways that will present God kingdom to many.
Congratulations to you, to all the boys, but especially to Christian as he ends his Bible Bowl career.