Many athletes have crazy superstitions. Routines, clothing, food … ridiculous as it seems, these routines bring some sort of confidence to otherwise sane people. Let’s not limit it to athletes; artists, performers, business professionals, fans, and even preachers often have routines to help get them into their “groove”. Whatever it takes to make a person comfortable can actually help their performance. Call it superstition or call it routine, if it helps do it. OK, a fan’s routines really have no bearing on the outcome of a game or the performance of the athletes (except for during the NCAA Basketball Tournament when it is imperative that we never change our routine as long as UK is winning!)
This actually has nothing to do with my subject in this post although it may at first glance seem that way. I want to tell you about my hat. It is a simple Kentucky blue cotton ball cap with a white ‘UK’ embroidered on the front. Christmas of 2007, I received this ball cap. If you have not been able to tell from any of my other post, we are a little bit fanatical about our C-A-T-S … CATS! CATS! CATS! so obviously this ball cap became a prized possession. In January of 2008, I began my training for the 2008 Derby Festival Marathon. The hat became a mainstay in my running apparel. Actually, I did not wear it for every run since I trained in some sub-freezing weather (UK Blue stocking cap), but any time I could, this hat was a part of the apparel.
This does not seem all that crazy does it? Well how about the fact that I did not wash that hat … at all. The closest it came to being cleaned was when I ran in the rain. By the end of my training the hat was covered in salt. Starting to sound a bit crazy now? As a matter of fact, I did not wash this hat until I started this new adventure! Superstition you say? Not exactly.
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:1-7)
One of the things that I discussed in my training journals was how much I hate to run. (Is This Fun?) It was hard, I was out of shape, and if not for the accountability of my teammates and some God given determination I would never have made it through the training. The 26.2 miles that I ran in April was just the culmination of over 200 miles of training. It was important when I started that race to remember all of those miles … the pain, freezing cold, the rain & snow, and all of the sweat that it was involved. That training was my Jordan River that I crossed to escape some really tough years. “The Hat” was my memorial to the process that process that God brought me through.
A few year later, I pulled out “The Hat” for another purpose. In the Fall of 2011 I began coaching “The United”. We had started together as a new team and it was my first experience coaching 11 v 11 soccer. Few of my players had been coached in the fundamentals of soccer and were in pretty poor physical condition. We were starting from scratch. We worked hard that Fall and made great strides, but fell short in the tournament loosing to the eventual champions. In the Spring, we were determined to continue our progress. We had a good season, but still had a few teams that we just could not handle. At tournament time, I pulled out “The Hat” and explained the significance of the sweat stains and all that it represented to me. The United took up the mantra “Remember the Sweat”. Those guys fought hard and beat teams with superior talent to win the championship. Not only that season, but the following Spring as well
It is not superstition, karma, or Rafiki’s magic that brings about success. It is the processes that we endure and the resulting character that develops us into the people we were created to be. Unfortunately, even as we grow, it is easy to forget how far we have come and the storms we have weathered during the journey. Forgetting often brings discouragement. Remembering on the other hand brings hope! What have you done to “Remember the Sweat?”
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22-25)