Some of the happiest memories of my youth come in some way or another from football. It didn’t matter if I was watching it on television, playing it at recess, or throwing the ball around with my brother Clint, I loved the game. You can imagine then how excited I was when I finally was old enough to play competitively.
I ate it up, all of it. The “two a days” when you worked so hard you are sure you had nothing left to give, game day, the thrilling victories and the agonizing defeats. To this day, crisp autumn Saturday mornings that have just a tinge of winters bite in them bring a smile to my face and remind me of the sport I love so much.
As I remember those practices I recall that regardless of the team I played for, whenever a time came that the coach wanted to talk to the team, he would ask everyone to gather around him and, “Take a knee.”
“Taking a knee” meant many different things. Sometimes, it meant a little encouragement, sometimes more information. The coach might have some advice or instruction to share with the team, or maybe he wanted to make it clear that we weren’t doing things as well as we should be and changes needed to be made. No matter what the coach had to say, “taking a knee” meant that it was time to take a break from whatever we were doing and listen carefully. For, when we did the work was easier and the games more fun.
On July 13, 1986 at about one in the afternoon, I broke my neck. Less than four hours later I was lying in an emergency room in Grand Junction, Colorado and had a doctor tell me something that I will never forget. He came next to my bed, looked me in the eye and said, “Jason, you’ve broken your neck and you will never walk again.”
Some may say that my worst fears were realized, but this little nugget of information was so far out in left field that I had never even considered it let alone feared it. There I was,15 years old trying to digest what he’d said. My game began to look pretty bleak.
Needing coaching then more than I ever had before, I followed my football training and “took a knee.” I went to my God, the best coach I have ever had, hoping for some encouragement or instruction. True to form, on my spiritual knees, I received everything I needed to make it through that harrowing day.
No matter the day, good or bad, easy or hard, things always go better when I “take a knee.” I believe the same is true for everyone. No matter what God you believe in, or how you choose to worship, our lives will be better when we take a break from whatever were doing and listen carefully.
So, when the winds blow and the waters rise, when the darkness comes and you yearn for the light, when the adversities of life conspire to chase hope from your heart, take a moment and “take a knee.” It won’t rid your life of difficulty, but it will make the work easier and the game of life more fun. I know that it has mine.