Monday Morning Devotion-August 22, 2022
A Well-Led Life
By standing firm you will win your souls. Luke 21:19
Football season starts this week. Thank you, Lord! Yes, football is big around these parts. Most of the year we are talking about football and wondering how our team is going to fare in the upcoming season. Now we get to see for ourselves. With that in mind I want to repeat the devotion I shared last year as the season was starting. Here goes:
We all want to finish well, no matter what it is we are doing. If we are playing a game, we want to finish well by winning. If it's a work project or teaching a child or just living our life, we want to have a great outcome. And as far as life is concerned, day-in-and-day out, we want to have a well-led life. Our ultimate goal is, when all is said and done---when it is finished---we want to hear the Lord say: "Well done my good and faithful servant."
I was reminded of this because of what happened on August 8, 2021. A man who I greatly admired and will truly miss passed away. Florida State University Football Coach Bobby Bowden died at the age of 91. Thus, one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met left us and certainly was welcomed into heaven by St. Peter, who no doubt was accompanied by a heavenly choir singing praises as Bobby joined Heaven's Team.
Coach Bowden, who won the second greatest number of games in college football history, considered that accomplishment secondary to the many players, coaches, fans and public that he was able to influence by his testimony. Bowden always told his players that the most important things in their lives was, in this order, Faith, Family and Football.
He won people over not only with his kindness and making every person he talked with feel special, but with a remarkable sense of humor. I was looking for books on Bobby on my crowded bookshelves and I found 13 different books (and I don't have all that have been written about him) but the 13th one of these is the only one that was written by Him. It is called: "The Wisdom of Faith." Each chapter is prefaced with a verse of scripture, like the one I'm using today for this devotion, which accompanied the chapter entitled: "The Wisdom of Patience." Let me share a story from that chapter and perhaps others:
Bobby wrote that three women all happened to arrive at the pearly gates at the same time. They were greeted by St. Peter, who asked them if they minded waiting while he attended to other pressing matters. He was gone quite a while. When he came back, he apologized to the first woman for the wait and asked if it was a problem:
"She replied 'not at all'. I have waited a lifetime to be in heaven. St. Peter said 'that's wonderful. I have one question to ask you. How do you spell God?' She said: G-O-D. He said great, please come in."
Then he went to the second woman and asked the same question. Her reply was "Oh, no. No trouble at all. I want to see everyone inside." Then he asked her how to spell GOD and she did so perfectly. And was allowed to go inside.
Then he asked the third woman if the delay had been a problem and her huffy answer was: "Ha, this is typical of every place I've been. All they do is make you wait. I had to wait in line to vote, wait in line at the movies, wait in line at the grocery store. Now I get here and what's the first thing that happens? More waiting."
St. Peter said: "I'm sorry for your many inconveniences. But the Lord is merciful and gracious. However, there is one other question I have to ask. Impatiently she asked, What is it?
St. Peter asked: How do you spell Czechoslovakia?"
That story is typical of the way Bobby won people over. His humor ran the gamut of all areas of life and was always good natured. I first met him when I was working in television as a sports reporter, then I switched over to radio to do sports. I once invited him to speak to my Sunday School class at Killearn Methodist and after I introduced him the first thing he said when he got to the podium was: "Let me clarify something. I did not tell Jim to leave television and go to radio to work. I simply told him he has a face for radio." :) Typical Bobby Bowden!
When told that he had pancreatic cancer he said that he was at peace. Bobby said: "I have always tried to serve God's purposes." So, he was ready for whatever God had in store for him.
When he had been hospitalized months earlier, and contracted Covid 19 his longtime, loyal administrative assistant Sue Hall told the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper that she was sitting in a chair nearby when he asked her to read him a Bible story. She said: "I started reading to him and in a few minutes, you could see his face relax, his body relax. I could see him totally change."
Bobby gained his strength from God's word. He was an early riser (4 a.m.) and the first thing he always did, after pouring a cup of black coffee, was read his Bible.
Obviously, Coach was serious about his faith. But being the great kidder that he was, he always interspersed his faith messages with his wonderfully funny stories.
Once when somebody asked him about a certain player on his team he replied. "That young man does not know the meaning of the word fear." Then he added: "I've been looking at his grades and there are a lot of words he doesn't know the meaning of."
I think you can see why Bobby Bowden had so many friends and how deep his faith was. We will miss him. Our loss is Heaven's gain.
Coach Bowden exemplified how to live a well-led life.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for people like Bobby Bowden who demonstrate their faith by leading a well-led life. Amen!