“My hands are too small, Dad.”
I expected to hear a lot of things after my son’s first high school summer football camp. But that was not one of them.
My son was blessed with the skills of a quarterback. His junior high coaches didn’t even try him out for a different position. His arm was made for throwing a football, his mind for developing plays, and his eyes for recognizing the opponents’ defensive schemes. He was a gifted leader, and enjoyed the loyalty of most of the sophomore team, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. And even though he wasn’t exceptionally tall (he’s 5’9″), he had no trouble seeing over the linemen, finding open receivers, and delivering the ball.
So when his high school coaches said that the size of his hands were one of the main reasons he likely wouldn’t play, I was caught off-guard (or was it off-tackle?).
To his credit, he seemed much more prepared for the news than I was. But still, we had to deal with the shock and the disappointment that, even though you are talented and work hard, often something over which you have no control will dictate the direction of your life.
Playing high school football is such a small thing, compared to the much bigger things in life that may not go your way.
Encouraging a teenager that God has good plans for his young life, but those plans may not include playing football, is a tall order.
Telling a terminally ill 35-year-old that God’s good will for his life may mean calling him home, leaving behind his wife and young children, is an entirely different thing.
But to a 14-year-old boy, taking away something he’s looked forward to and expected for so long can make him feel like his whole life is off course. Thankfully, God’s Word addresses those fears.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
We carefuly cautioned our kids not to read this verse to say that “everything will work out fine.” Yes, everything will work out eventually, but not necessarily in the way that you or I want them to right now.
That’s why we often tied Jeremiah 29:11 with a very similar verse in the New Testament, from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
If you stop at the first part of this verse, you could get the wrong idea, too. The second half of the verse clarifies that loving God and being called according to His purpose is the key in aligning our will with God’s will. To me, the best way to think about that is the concept of surrender: loving God enough to give up selfish human desires, and to accept His higher plans.
Surrendering to the plans of a good, loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful God makes a lot of sense to me.