Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion,
shares a moving story about a skinny young boy
 who loved football with all his heart. Practice after
practice, he eagerly gave everything he had.
But being half the size of the other boys, he got
 absolutely nowhere. At all the games, this hopeful
athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played.

This teenager lived alone with his father, and the
two of them had a very special relationship. Even
though the son was always on the bench, his father
 was always in the stands cheering. He never missed
 a game. This young man was still the smallest of
the class when he entered high school. But his
father continued to encourage him but also made
it very clear that he did not have to play
football if he didn't want to.

But the young man loved football and decided to
hang in there He was determined to try his best at
every practice,  and perhaps he'd get to play when
 he became a senior. All through high school he
never missed a practice nor a game but remained
a bench-warmer all four years. His faithful father
 was always in the stands,  always with words of
encouragement for him. When the young man went
 to college, he decided to try out for the football
team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could
 never make the cut, but he did.

The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster
because he always puts his heart and soul to every
practice, and at the same time, provided the other
members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.

The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him
so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and
called his father. His father shared his excitement
 and was sent season tickets for all the college
 games. This persistent young athlete never missed
practice during his four years at college, but he
never got to play in a game.

It was the end of his senior football season, and
as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before
the big playoff game, the coach met him with a
telegram. The young man read the telegram and
he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he
mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning.
Is it all right if I miss practice today?" The coach
put his arm gently around his shoulder and said,
"Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't
 even plan to come back to the game on Saturday."

Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well.
In the third quarter, when the team was ten points
 behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the
empty locker room and put on his football gear. As
he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players
were astounded to see their faithful teammate back
so soon. "Coach, please let me play. I've just got
to play today," said the young man.


 The coach pretended not to hear him. There was
no way he wanted his worst player in this close
playoff game. But the young man persisted, and
finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in.
 "All right," he said. "You can go in." Before long,
the coach, the players and everyone in the stands
could not believe their eyes. This little unknown,
who had never played before was doing everything
 right. The opposing team could not stop him.  He
ran, he passed, blocked, and tackled like a star.
His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied.

 In the closing seconds of the game, this kid
intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the
winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His
 teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders.
Such cheering you never heard.

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team
had showered and left the locker room, the coach
 noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in
 the corner all alone The coach came to him and
said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic!
Tell me what got into you?  How did you do it?"

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and
 said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you
 know that my dad was blind?" The young man
 swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to
 all my games, but today was the first time he could
see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"

Like the athlete's father, God is always there
cheering for us. He's always reminding us to go on.
He's even offering us His hand for He knows what
is best, and is willing to give us what we need and
not simply what we want. GOD has never missed
a single game. What a joy to know that life is
meaningful if lived for the Highest.  Live for HIM
for He's watching us in the game of life!


"Hope"  is featured on "Hopes, Dreams and Meditations" by Margi Harrell

Check out Music CDs by Margi Harrell