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Winning Streak

Hawks win!  Hawks win!  Hawks Win!  The familiar game-ending call resonated from the TV once again.   Over the past two months, the Chicago Blackhawks shattered the NHL record for the best start to a hockey season.  Along the way, everyone naturally wanted to know the key to their amazing success.  Their head coach offered this slightly cryptic reason:  “We’re able to roll all four lines effectively and with confidence.”  In hockey code, this loosely translates to: the whole team is strong, and everyone does their part for the greater whole.  They don’t need to rely on a few key players each night to win games.

Growing up in the Chicago area, playing ice hockey, and following the team for the past 30 years, this season has been great for a fan like me.  The spare tire cover on my Jeep still sports a giant Blackhawks team logo – leaving my Rhode Island neighbors baffled over the feathered and war-painted Native American portrait in my driveway.  But as I drove that Jeep to church last Sunday, I wasn’t thinking about the Blackhawks or hockey, or how to further confuse my neighbors.  I was mentally preparing to lead worship with the praise band that morning.

Reviewing musical arrangements during the 25-minute drive to church is my normal routine, followed by prayer.  My prayer is usually focused on the music ministry, but that morning I unexpectedly set off on a virtual walk-through of the entire church building — a journey through every remote area that would be active on Sunday morning.  I started by praying for the speaker and the sermon… but then I saw the sound, media, and lights volunteers doing their jobs at the back of the sanctuary.  I passed by the ushers in the foyer, and the folks serving coffee in the fellowship area.  Heading downstairs, I envisioned the teen leaders energizing a rowdy group in the gym, Sunday school teachers doing crafts with kids in their classrooms, and nursery volunteers keeping a close eye on a herd of mischievous little ones… and the list goes on.  Everyone was faithfully doing their part on this well-coordinated team.

Through each step of this visual journey, I prayed for the people involved.  I was excited about my new visual prayer tactic, but also convicted.  I realized that I tend to put greater prayer emphasis on my area of service, even when so many other important ministries are happening at the same time – with so many fellow team members involved.

It struck me that God’s basic strategy for winning is not much different than that of the Blackhawks.  The Lord, our Head Coach, has called us to “roll all our lines effectively and confidently.”  He’s built a strong, gifted team, but we’ll only be most successful if we work together for the greater whole — the glory of the Lord.  Let’s be sure our prayers and actions reflect that, and let’s find ways to help our teammates and work together as one.

1 Peter 4:11 — If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 

– Ron Reid