Opinion Column

Don’t give up, someone really loves you

By Rev. Eric Strachan

Survival can be summed up in three words, ‘Never Give Up’. That’s the heart of it really, just keep trying. - Bear Grylls

Well the new year is less than 48 hours away, and the prospect of a fresh start and a new beginning fills many of you who are reading this today with a bright sense of optimism and hope. But as the old year quickly passes away and the New Year 2018 dawns there are others of you who are less exuberant about the future. You sincerely wish that you could muster up the enthusiasm for a new year and bring in the bells with a profound sense of joy and expectation, but as the minutes tick down to the magical moment, 12 midnight on December 31, you just don’t have it within you to be able to do that.

There may well be many reasons why you are feeling the way you do. Take another sip of coffee and let me name a few. Maybe you’ve been recently widowed and you’re still trying to navigate your way through the grieving process. You’ve never been this way before, it’s uncharted territory, and you’re somewhat afraid. Maybe you made a big mistake this past year, you were charged under the Criminal Code and your trial date is coming up soon. Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and ahead for you in 2018 there’s chemotherapy and radiation. You’ve never walked in these shoes before and the very thought of the upcoming treatment strikes a chord of apprehension in your heart. Maybe you’re a teenager and you got pregnant last year, the last thing you wanted to happen, and bless your heart, you got wise counsel, listened to it and decided to keep the baby, but as the clock turns to the new year you wonder how you’re going to manage.

There are a thousand different scenarios aren’t there? But they all have a common denominator, something bad and unexpected happened, it was a blow to you, and as you now stand on the precipice of a new year you’re filled with a certain degree of anxiety and apprehension about the future.

Pause with me for a moment, take another sip of that cup of coffee and let me dip into my bag of true stories and pull out one from New Year’s Day, January 1, 1929 to be precise.

Now I know that maybe some of you are not sports fans or football buffs, but hang in and let me tell an incredibly powerful story that happened back there on that memorable day of 1929. The universities of Georgia Tech and California were matched together for the classic Rose Bowl game. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and midway through the first half, Roy Reigels, a Georgia Tech player retrieved a fumbled ball, but as he did so, trying to dodge opposing tacklers, he was spun around and somehow lost his bearings. Breaking out of the pack he began to run towards what he thought was the opposing team’s goal line but in actuality he was running towards his own goal line. Needless to say the 70,000 in attendance were going bananas! A team mate by the name of Bernie Lom tried to catch Reigels and pull him down shouting frantically as he did, “Roy, Roy, you’re going the wrong way!” but Reigels kept running. Finally Lom caught him and pulled him down to the turf but only after he had ran 64 yards in the wrong direction. It was the biggest blunder in Roy Reigels’ football career. For Reigels it was a colossal blow, labeling him from that day on as “Wrong-Way Reigels.” As a result of that error the Georgia Tech Trojans would lose two points that would eventually cost them the game, but let me take you to the dressing room after the halftime whistle went.

Before the teams are about to head out for the second half, Trojans’ coach Nibbs Price shouts out in the dressing room, “Same team, second half!” That call came as a bit of a surprise, for after his on field blunder many thought Reigels would be benched for the second half. As the Trojans donned their helmets to head back out to the field Roy Reigels sat dejected in a corner, his head down, cupped in his hands between his legs. “There’s no way I can go back out there coach,” said Reigels to Price.

That day Reigels was humiliated, broken and crushed beyond measure, he simply wanted to hide his face wishing the ground would open up and swallow him. Historical footnotes say that coach Nibbs Price came and stood at his side, put his hand on his shoulder and repeated his directive, “Roy, you heard what I said, the same team, the second half!” That day, New Year’s Day, January 1, 1929, Reigels got up and headed out through the long tunnel on to the playing field. In the annals of American football it is recorded that the man who had a disastrous first half, maybe even the worst that Trojan fans could remember, played an inspired second half.

Now, back to you sitting there sipping your coffee. Maybe you had a crushing blow this past year, maybe you made a big mistake. Regardless, I tell you that there is a man called Jesus Christ who stands by your side, who loves you, who puts his hand on your shoulder and says in words that only He can say, “I want you to go back out there into the new year and face the future.”

Dear friend, don’t let your past determine your future. There’s a beautiful song that sums all that I want to say to you today, “Don’t give up, someone really loves you, Don’t give up, someone really cares, Don’t give up, someone really loves you, And that someone is the Lord.” Life is not over my friend, God can heal the pain of the past, forgive the errors of the past and forget the transgressions of the past.

You have a second half yet to complete. There’s a tunnel awaiting you to take you onto the playing field of life, and if you would truly trust in Him, Jesus Christ, you will not have to walk it alone. Listen to the crowd, they’re waiting for you. Believe me my dear friend there’s more than one person cheering for you. The second half awaits you. The past is behind you, the future lies ahead! To you and all who read the column, may you have a wonderful New Year, and may God’s hand of blessing rest upon you throughout 2018. Happy New Year!  

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