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What an NFL Player and I Have in Common

Von Miller was named Most Valuable Player in last year’s Super Bowl, which his team won. So he has abundant reason to be grateful during this holiday season. But he recently expressed his gratitude in a way I’ve never seen in professional sports.

Miller sent every player in his division—more than two hundred people—a bottle of custom Cabernet Sauvignon. With the wine came this note:

“It is an honor and a privilege to take the field and compete with you twice a year. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to fulfill our childhood dreams of playing in the NFL. The blood, sweat, aches and pains, and endless hours spent watching film are a testament to the love and dedication we have for this game. So take a moment, reflect on all your successes, and enjoy your accomplishment. Appreciate those who have helped you get this far, and start working towards your next childhood dream.

“Thank you for helping to make our game great!”

It’s typical for football players to thank their teammates for their success. Running backs give presents to their offensive linemen. Head coaches reward their assistant coaches. But to thank his competitors for the privilege of playing against them is a counterintuitive expression of gratitude that makes all the sense in the world. Without them, Miller would have no one with whom to compete. His livelihood depends on their participation in his vocation. So his gratitude, while surprising, is completely appropriate.

Von Miller and I have almost nothing in common. He is a world-class athlete; I am a fan of athletes. He appeared on Dancing with the Stars; I have never watched Dancing with the Stars. He can run a 4.5-second forty-yard-dash, which is insanely fast for a person of his size. I had foot surgery last Friday and cannot walk without crutches today.

But that’s where our stories converge.

Surprisingly, I am truly grateful for this surgery. Admittedly, the days afterward have been painful. But I’m realizing the wonderful blessings that make up this medical event: a world-class surgeon, outstanding nurses, access to all the medications I need, a ministry staff that is covering for me while I’m at home, and most of all a loving wife who clearly married me “in sickness and in health.” While the country debates the future of ObamaCare, I can commend JanetCare without reservation!

Here’s my point: There are ways to turn the holidays into holy days if we’ll look for them. There are reasons to “give thanks in all circumstances” if we’ll view our circumstances through an attitude of gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even hard places can be holy places if we trust God for his peace and praise him for his love. And a world filled with competition and pain may see in us the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7) and be drawn to his grace.

Christmas proves that Christ can be present everywhere and praised in everything. As my intellectual hero C. S. Lewis notes, “Once in our world a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”

Now that “something” is a Someone who lives in your heart. Is there a better reason for Christmas joy today?

NOTE: For more on today’s theme, be sure to see my wife’s blog tomorrow. As you might imagine, she has her own view on lessons we’re learning from my foot surgery. I will link to her column in tomorrow’s Daily Article, and you will also be able to read it at www.janetdenison.org.


Publication date: December 6, 2016


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