Tag Archives: sports



I was riding my bike along the Rideau River cycle path, pedaling through familiar parkland, on the last leg of my half-hour ride home from work.  The river was on my right, partly obscured by a narrow strip of wooded land. A strip of open parkland was on my left. There was the usual after-work traffic along the cycle path, but nothing to suggest that an accident was about to happen. Everything seemed perfectly normal.

I had two meetings that evening – both quite important. I was enjoying the ride, but I wanted to get home, get showered and changed, and prepare for the evening.

Then it happened. As is often the case with accidents, there was little warning. My attention was focussed on an oncoming cyclist on the other side of the pathway, and I was adjusting my position accordingly. There were also some pedestrians on or near the path, and I was conscious of needing to avoid them as well. Consequently, I wasn’t looking to my right, or I might have noticed some movement in the bushes by the river. Suddenly a mid-size dog bounded out of the bushes onto the path directly in front of me. The next thing I remember, I was on the ground, screaming in pain. I had gone down hard. All the major joints on my right side – shoulder, elbow, hip and knee – were throbbing.

After half a minute or so, I managed to get up, and found to my relief that I could still move my shoulder. This was my first concern, as four years previously I had dislocated a shoulder in a similar accident.  I was a little dazed, and had painful scrapes and road rash all along my right side, but had no serious injuries. Several people stopped to make sure I was all right. I thanked them all and told them I would be OK.

I checked out my bike and found that it was basically intact. So, after waiting a few minutes for the pain to subside to a tolerable level, I got back on the bike and rode the short distance home – a wounded warrior seeking comfort and shelter. I have never been more happy to reach the safety and familiarity of my own back yard.

After I had showered and washed my wounds, Marion bandaged the worst one and put ointment on the others. But it wasn’t until she asked me “Is your head OK?” that I realized something remarkable. My head did not hurt at all. It was totally fine. I did have a few seconds of very mild lightheadedness, but absolutely no pain and no symptoms of concussion. Then we both realized that I ought to take a look at my helmet. I took a look at it, and saw two cracks on the right side – a little one and a big one.

When I thought about the cracks in my helmet, I realized that I had been protected from what could have been very serious harm. A bruised hip and shoulder, and scrapes along the elbow and knee, are really no big deal. Today, four days later, I am well on the way to recovery from all these minor wounds. But if I had landed hard on the pavement without a helmet, who knows what the outcome would have been?

Paul the apostle wrote many letters of advice and instruction to young churches full of new Christians living in a hostile world. He knew he needed to give them plenty of hope and encouragement. He told these new believers that they were like stars in a dark night sky. He told them that in the midst of the darkness of a corrupt and dying world, they were children of the day who could look forward to the glorious new world that God had promised. He also said that in the midst of the struggles of living in a culture that was mostly hostile to their faith and values, they could equip themselves by putting on faith and love like a breastplate, and the hope of salvation like a helmet. In this way their hearts and minds would be protected.

Marion rightly reminds me that I need to wear my bike helmet every time I go out on my bike. I confess that in the past, on occasion I have not worn it when I was going for only a short ride on a hot day in the neighbourhood. On those muggy July days, a helmet is hot and sweaty, and sometimes you don’t want to wear it. But since my recent accident, my helmet has proved its value to me, and I will wear it every time I ride my bike. There was no way I could have predicted my accident of a few days ago. I could need my helmet at any moment.

In my email inbox I receive daily bulletins detailing some of the struggles of Christ-followers in lands where being a Christian makes you a public enemy. When your home could be burned, your pastor could be jailed, your daughter could be raped or forced into a marriage she does not want simply because you and your family are Christians, you need a hope that circumstances can’t destroy. You can’t wait until persecution hits to secure yourself with this hope. The hope of salvation has to be your daily companion, because you could need it at any moment.

Sometimes, we don’t feel like turning off the TV or the laptop or the tablet or the smartphone to immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Sometimes we’d rather entertain ourselves than feed our spirits with worship. Christians in Canada have it pretty easy and our need for the hope of salvation may not seem all that pressing. But what are you going to do when your mother dies, or your father gets laid off, or your best friend is on drugs, or your marriage is falling apart, or your employer goes bankrupt, or you are facing sexual temptation, or someone in your life needs hope and you have none to give? What would you give for an intimate knowledge of God when disaster comes? If you have no real life with God – if your “faith, hope and love account” is bankrupt – what will you do when your next door neighbour or your friend at work or school is hungry for answers? What will you have to feed them if your cupboard is bare? And what will you do when persecution comes to Canada? What will you do when Jesus returns? How will you answer him?

I could take my helmet with me and strap it onto the back of my bike, and say that I have my helmet so I’m OK, but it wouldn’t do me any good. You may say you believe the Bible is the Word of God, but if you don’t read it, it does you no good. As for me, I can truthfully say that I know the Word of God quite well. But if I don’t pay attention to the Word I know, it doesn’t do me a bit of good. I can say that I know Jesus, but if I don’t listen to Him, what good is it? I know lots of worship songs, but if I don’t take time to worship the Lord with my whole being, what good are the songs?

The only way that I know of to put on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet is to do it every day. Every day I need to turn to Jesus, renew my mind with His word, turn away from distractions and pour out my heart to Him in worship. Daily I need to be quiet with Him and listen to what He wants to say to me. This is how my hope stays fresh and bright and alive. Even two or three days without setting time aside to give my full attention to Jesus, and I can tell the difference.

I can’t afford to ride my bike without a helmet. It’s foolish. My helmet is my protection. I know that now, and I will never ride without it again.

In just the same way, I can’t afford to travel the pathways of life without wearing the helmet of the hope of salvation. I need to anchor myself in Jesus every day. He is ready to protect me, empower me and fill me with hope so that I’m ready for every circumstance – but it’s up to me to put on my helmet.



A lifetime assignment

Goalies have different styles.

Take Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas, for example.  For those who aren’t hockey fans, Luongo and Thomas are the goalies of the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins respectively, who are currently tied at three wins apiece in the Stanley Cup finals.

Several of the goals in this series have been a direct result of shooters understanding the unique traits of the opposing goalie’s style of play.  In game two, Alex Burrows scored the winning goal by going behind the net because he knew Tim Thomas would come way out of his net to challenge the shooter.  In game six, Brad Marchand beat Luongo on the upper left side after studying his goaltending style and habits, and discovering one of his weak areas.  His goal may well have been the key to his team’s victory in that game.

Men and women also have different styles, different ways of doing things, different ways of thinking.  Anyone who has been married for any length of time has discovered this.

As in hockey, so in marriage it is possible to catalogue your partner’s unique ways of thinking and behaving, looking for weak areas so that you can score points on each other.  In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, that probably won’t lead to the most harmonious of marriage relationships.

But what if we studied our marriage partners with a different goal in mind – so that we can learn how to love them better?

I’m making a fundamental assumption here – that you and your marriage partner have both surrendered control of your lives to Jesus and invited Him to be the Lord of your individual lives and of your marriage.  If you have not done this, most of the rest of what I say here won’t make sense to you.  Our marriage changed radically when Marion and I both explicitly surrendered our wills to Jesus, and stopped trying to control each other.  We still had lots of other issues to work through, but at least we had a starting point – we were standing on the same ground and walking in the same direction.

That was about twenty-five years ago, and since then, I’ve learned a few things.  One of the things I’ve learned is that to love my wife really well, I need to understand how she thinks.  A number of years ago Marion and I watched a series of DVDs by Dr. Gary Smalley called “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships”.  For me, probably the number one insight that came from this teaching series was the transformative power of one simple decision.  I’m referring to the decision to honour, rather than bemoan, the built-in qualities that make my partner different from me.  Smalley related how in his own marriage he had to learn to see the differences between his wife and himself (differences in emotional makeup and ways of thinking) as a gift rather than a problem.

I’m not talking about fundamental differences in vision, goals and purpose for living.  A couple needs to be committed to unity in those fundamental areas for a marriage to work.  If your basic visions for life are different, you need to listen to the Lord together until you come to agreement.  But even if we agree on our fundamental visions and goals, men and women are different in the way we think, in the way we communicate, in the way we look at life.  And beyond typical male-female differences, individual men and women have their own unique traits.

It’s easy to get frustrated by the fact that your husband or wife doesn’t think the way you do.  But what if you choose to assume that God has made your marriage partner different from you for a reason?  Then the differences, instead of being a cause of frustration, become an asset.  When Marion and I are talking about a given situation, we often see things differently.  We have learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean one of us is wrong.  It could just mean that neither of us sees the whole picture.  Marion possesses wisdom in certain areas of life that can benefit me greatly if I am willing to humble myself and learn from her.  I also have strengths in other areas that she has learned to recognize.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that all of your marriage partner’s most irritating habits are God-given, built-in traits.  Some of them are just bad habits, old patterns that need to be unlearned, maybe even sins that need to be repented of.  Even so, I have learned that I can trust the Holy Spirit to show my wife the areas where she needs to change.  My main job is to pray for her and encourage her.  It’s amazing how much more responsive she is to me when I treat her with encouragement and acceptance.  Funny thing, eh?

Newsflash : no marriage on earth is perfect, and at times every couple has to have an honest talk.  But even those honest talks go a lot better if both partners start with the assumption that God gave us to each other for a reason, and that our differences are part of the package.  Marion and I both have a lot of changing still to do as the Lord transforms us into His image, but no matter how much each of us grows in Christ, we will always be two distinct personalities, even though we are one in flesh and in spirit.  If you are like most married couples, it’s probably the differences that attracted you to each other in the first place, and if your partner were just like you, you probably wouldn’t like it.  So, you might as well learn to appreciate the differences – they aren’t going to go away no matter what you do.  I am still learning to understand my wife’s ways, still learning to appreciate her fully.  I think it must be a lifetime assignment – women are complex creatures – but it’s well worth the effort.  My wife is a gift to me.  She is a true woman of God, and the better I understand her, the more I realize this.

I remember an older couple who had a huge impact on Marion and me earlier in our marriage.  Ray and Jean were in their seventies by that time, and Marion and I were in our late thirties/early forties.  We were church leaders, but we still had so much to learn about life!  They shared their hearts and their lives freely, and invested in us with all that they had learned over the years.  I will always be grateful to them.  Now it’s our turn to pass on some of what we’ve learned.  Marion and I have been transitioning into a new season in our marriage over the last decade as our own children have grown up.   We are excited about what is to come! We both sense that God is opening up some new areas of growth for us, and it’s our heartfelt desire that the lessons we have learned – and the ones we are still learning – will bless others who are seeking to honour God in their marriages.