“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Life is an amazing adventure and every single day brings forth endless possibilities in shaping us into the miracles that we are. If we wait too long to finally realize that, we just might discover the beauty we have been missing. Sometimes those lessons are learned early while others quite late in life, but the bottom line is simple. Learn all you can while you can when you can.
Take Jerry for instance. He grew up in rural Oklahoma, raised on rodeos, grilled hamburgers, and football, lots of it. He loved the game and was quite talented at it with all the God-given talent that he nurtured and fostered keeping two strong feet planted on the ground and never ever getting “too big for his britches,” as his mom would say as often as she could and as often as he needed to hear it.
However, his biggest fan was his father who realized from a very early age that being a sports fan required more than just casual dedication. Having a son who loved the game and worked hard at it made him more than proud. It made him devoted. He realized that no team wins it each and every year and this means there are ups and downs constantly. Sticking with his son and his teammates through thick and thin is exactly what being a fan is all about.
Struggling as they were to keep afloat financially in raising a family, Jerry’s family rejoiced when upon graduation from high school, he received a full, four-year football scholarship to the prestigious University of Oklahoma. Although things would still be tight, it was all right because they were used to hard sacrifices and loving returns. Their family was so close and yet as generous as they were industrious. Jerry’s teammates found another in his own father and the dedicated biggest fan was never a stranger, especially at home-sponsored games and even during the team’s long, protracted and grueling practices. All the coaches knew at least two things about Jerry: he was the most polite, respectful, and loyal member of the team, and he was close to his dad and never had to apologize for it. This father-son relationship actually gave spirit to the team and encouraged other families to work at unity and mutual love and support for their sons on the field.
In his senior year, getting ready to head out to the world to pursue his dream of being a Chemical Engineer in nearby Tulsa after graduation, the team made it to the playoffs. What an amazing time to be alive. The final year for many of his teammates to ever pick up the pigskin collegiately or professionally was coming to an end along with an array of wonderful and profound memories that would take them all into adulthood and to their places in the world. Practices were brutal in preparation for the big day. Of course, as the excitement mounted, there were two clearly and totally expected sights: Jerry would be at every practice and his dad would be in the stands quietly and majestically supporting his son and his team on the path to a prized victory.
As the days grew closer to the championship that was to be played in Dallas, the pressure was definitely at a frenetic level. The campus was buzzing and the student body stood squarely behind their team and the hopes for the future of the Senior Class poised to graduate just days after the game. But a week before the buses were to leave for Texas, shocking news reached the locker room. Jerry’s dad had died suddenly from a massive heart attack. The team was thrown into a heartbreak mode of existence and prayers poured in from seemingly everywhere. The coaches took up a special collection to help the family with funeral arrangements and a grieving family buried their loving father with six rather large and strapping pallbearers, among them, a forlorn, devastated, but very grateful son.
Life, as it usually does, went on, and the university community continued moving forward to thoughts of greatness in Dallas, although tempered by a severe loss, it was business as usual. However, there were two missing lights at the practice field. Jerry and his dad were painfully missing but a make-shift wreath made of football gear stood at the entrance of the locker room. Then it was time to pack and get ready for the journey south. The Head Coach was the last one in the sports complex having overseen the final preparation for the game, and just as he was ready to turn out the lights and close down, a shadow of a figure loomed at his opaque glass paned door. A slight knock ensued upon the large plate glass enclosed within the coach’s office door. It was Jerry, looking a little worn and obviously deeply affected by the loss of his mentor, paternal coach, and light of his life. Quickly the coach invited him in and pulled up a chair. After a few minutes of outreach and the expressions of hope and condolences, Jerry had one favor to ask.
“Hey, Coach. I never missed a practice these past four years except when my father died. Can I please start tomorrow in Dallas?”
As remarkable as such a request sounds, it was a moment of conflict for the coach who knew of Jerry’s dedication but also of his abilities. He was a good player but maybe not the kind of lineman who would start a championship, but what could he do? Something deep inside echoed the only answer he could give.
“Sure, Jerry! Bus leaves at 5:00 am.”
During that short night of sleep, the coach kept tossing and turning. He could envision starting this outstanding mountain of a man, he could see the coin toss, his team would have to receive, he heard the kickoff, the ball coming to Jerry and he fumbling the ball only for the opposing team to score on the first play of the game. Should he go back on his word? Should he risk the championship? Before he could even give any real thought to these burning questions, the alarm went off and it was time to start the wheels in motion. After having quickly showered and dressed, he and his wife arrived at the university sports complex about two hours before departure only to see a tall, excited, and anxious student waiting by the bus pacing about as if he had been there forever.
“You haven’t changed your mind, have you Coach?!,” came that familiar voice.
His deeply respected coach had only one thing to say: “No, Son. You’re in. Get on the bus.”
But even on the way down to Texas, the coach kept having flashbacks of his semi-contentious nightmares of losing the toss, fumbling the ball and losing the championship, but then again, as a man of his word, he stayed the course and remained resolute.
The sunrise could not have been more spectacular. The day was clear and sharp and the stadium was packed with wild enthusiastic voices with marching bands, the smell of popcorn, and the rush of adrenaline on both sides of the football field. Both teams made their way to their assigned sides while a colorful honor guard began the pledge of allegiance, the anthem, and special dedications and announcements were made over the booming speakers. Perhaps the two most anxious men in that whole stadium had to have been Jerry and his coach, but that was inconsequential now as the moment of truth finally arrived.
Jerry’s team lost the toss and the opposing team chose to kick. The starting gun was fired, the cheering rose to fever pitch, the ball sailed into that magnificent blue sky heading straight for Jerry. The coach found it altogether too much to watch. He turned his gaze downward as if to pick something up from the ground, squinching and scrunching as if he were preparing for a devastating blow; but the roar of the crowd from his side of the stadium told him everything he needed and wanted to know. Jerry had caught the ball, ran fifteen yards for the first down. With an immense spurt of synergy whirling around the team like a bolt of lightning, they left him in the game and within fifteen minutes they scored. And they kept on scoring even until the end and a championship for the books. Even the opposing team was in awe. So were both men.
After the traditional handshakes, presentation of trophies with a field teeming with bursts of wild joy and relief, the coach began to look for Jerry. He couldn’t find him among the “stars” of the game, the more notable names, or the favorites. Finally, he was found deep in the recesses of the locker room, with a uniform practically in shreds, covered in mud and probably some blood as well. And he was crying softly, this giant of a man on several meaningful levels.
The coach gently asked, “Hey man, what happened out there. That was awesome! I would never have imagined you had that in you.”
“Hey Coach, you know my father died, right?,” came the carefully uttered response.
“Of course, Jerry. We know how much you’ve hurt, but we are hurting too, for you and your family,” continued the wise teacher.
Jerry slowly lifted his head, wiped away the tears mixed with grime and blood and then uttered effortlessly and profoundly, “What you didn’t know was that my father was blind, and this was the first time he got to see me play.”
Ours is a magnificent life filled with the stuff of legends, sagas, and epics being written all around us, every day. We simply cannot afford to miss a moment to cry, to forgive, to sing out loud in praise of what the Lord Jesus has done for us even in the most dark and desolate of moments because it is precisely in these human passages of time and space that we come to discover the beauty that has made us His sons and daughters whom He loves eternally.
Your Father sees you. Always has. Always will.
Share your thoughts (26 thoughts)
“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6
26 thoughts on “The Longest Drive”
Wow! Another great story. What a great movie that would make!
Thank you so much, Patty, for your comments. I am so very glad that you enjoyed our post as did so many others. Have a great week with many blessings for you and all your family!
Wow. Just wow. As a person who’s never really had a relationship with her dad because he died when i was a year and a half, I pray to my dad every day. I know he sees what I’m doing in my life and know that he is guiding me in each decision I make in my life. I’ve had a tumultuous life and I beg him to protect me. This story reminds me that he is always watching and protecting me thru Gods light!! Thank you for this story!
All of our readers will be most appreciative of your heart-felt and most genuine words of reflection to our offering, “The Longest Drive,” Margo! Thank you so very much for your sharing and openness that helps others realign with their own feelings and heartache that definitely need a little help to come to the surface where they will be held, healed, and comforted. God indeed is watching over us with so many souls at His loving command. Life is certainly not only all that can be seen but also what is believed and trusted. God bless you always!
Thank you for this beautiful article! As I reflect on the essence of this article, one word comes to mind, FAITH. For me, each character exhibited a true innocence and humbleness of blind faith. Each of us is called to live a life of blind faith in which we do not question how or why. Instead, we must trust in the Lord that He will lead us, and we must know in our heart of hearts that the “why” does not matter when we truly offer our lives up to serve as His tools. Profound beauty is found in blind faith, and life seems more full and gratifying. Through blind faith He allows us to serve Him, not for our glory, but for God’s glory, so that HIS will may be done. I see the beauty of blind faith in Coach, Jerry, and Jerry’s dad. Again thank you for this beautiful story!
Hello, Sandy, and thank you for the time and effort you took to reach out to us and all our readers. The issue and topic of blind faith is certainly important to many of us and I greatly appreciated the way you connected profound beauty with the innocence of an overwhelmingly sincere and complete trust that can withstand the most terrible os storms and spiritual avalanches. We are so very happy you enjoyed this. We are nearly ready to present yet another one very soon. It will be a little different than our most recent offerings, but enjoyable nonetheless. God bless you always!
Hello. I guess I’m better late than never. Thank you again for such a wonderful story. I couldn’t help but get flashbacks of my own dad and how he always supported me in all things extra-curricular. I still pray that he is still watching and cheering me on and is proud of who I have become.
Welcome back, Denise, and of course, “better late” is always better than REAL late, lol. I am happy that our article brought back happy memories for you and I am sure for many others. Of course, our loved ones occupy a most happy and eternal place that help us in ways that will only be evident when we all meet in Heaven. Thank you, Denise, and God bless you always!
Thanks once again for yet another great story. An important aspect of this story for me is how faith motivates us. Jerry had faith that his father was watching him play in that incredibly important game. It could have been a regular season game and not the championship game and Jerry would have played with just as much gusto. Jerry believed with all his heart that his father was watching him play and Jerry’s performance on the field that day was both a tribute to and a gift for his father. I imagine Jesus on the cross and instead of saying “it is finished” he said “I did it, Dad.”
Welcome, Ron, and thank you so very much for gracing these pages with your thoughts and reflections. I certainly appreciated the aspect that you shared expressing how faith is actually motivation. Faith is the key to a happy and fulfilling life. We can be rich and talented, but if we don’t have faith in God, the source and Creator of all life, in ourselves, in the beauty of life, then every day will feel like a struggle. We encounter struggling people every single day and so our call from the Lord addresses how we are to face these challenges and help those who struggle with the light that emanates from within, that is, the presence of our Heavenly Father watching us from Heaven. Every day you and I are on the football field of life running, blocking, fumbling, and yes, completing those long-distance passes all the way to the goalposts. Let us express love towards people more often and forgive and forget the hatred of the past. In that way, we might be able to say with pure intention and hope, as you so appropriately described, “I did it, Dad!”
I kept waiting for it and waiting for it. I thought, “where is he going with this“ and then… Bam! What an incredible ending and what great love the father had for his son who would watch him play even when he couldn’t see him! We have to keep on playing the game even when we can’t see the father! I can’t wait for the first time I see him seeing me.
Thank you so very much, Father, for returning to these pages and sharing your insights. Our readers should also know that your FB page is also replete with great insights on all things human and divine. And what a great image of the joyful hope of waiting “for the first time I see him seeing me.” Yes, indeed. What a great and wonderful moment that will be! In the meantime, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Messiah at the end of time when He makes all things new again, eternally. God bless you always!
I read this story and took some time to reflect on what the key message is, and for me, it came down to 2 things.
1. The coach in this story clearly had to make a decision that would possibly affect his career and legacy in a negative way, but instead remained loyal and selfless. He understood the value of letting Jerry play and what it might mean to him. Jerry had committed himself to the coach, and this was reciprocated, due to the coach’s actions. How often do we consider how our decisions might affect others? Especially when the decision we make might have an impact to ourselves, potentially in an irreversible negative manner. Do we do the right thing, and enjoy God’s graces later? Or do we focus on what’s in front of us and commit to selfish biases.
2. Jerry’s father never let his disability get in the way of his support and happiness for his son. Do we let little things we are unhappy with change our mood which causes a reaction to the people close to us to have those same feelings? We often forget how grateful we should be because we are blessed. We should keep a positive mindset because “attitude is contagious”. This story is an obvious example of the positive attitude in the midst of hardships. I personally, take note of this and will try to be more like Jerry’s father.
Great story and thanks for sharing!
Wow, Matt, that was excellent! Let’s take each of your assessments separately and dive into their significance:
1. What I took away from your first astute observation were the issues of loyalty and selflessness realizing perhaps even sadly that these elements seem to be missing from an alarming rate of many relationships across the board. Loyalty stems from integrity, saying what you mean and meaning what you say. I think this has become more and more scarce because it’s easier for some folks to lie and cheat rather than go the extra loving mile to do what is right and life-giving. Selfishness is also rampant because we are witnessing the rapid growth of self-worship and “me-first” generationally cultivated attitudes. Following your lead, I have evaluated my life to see where I have been loyal and selfless and then consider the ways I might improve that part of my life.
2. Disabilities. Everyone has them, but not everyone acknowledges them or accepts them in themselves and conversely in others. What you have reminded our readers today is that the way we approach weakness, pain, and those things that alter our moods and attitudes, in no small way, dictates how happy we will be in this life and how we become oases of joy for others especially for those God has given us in this life. Patience finds its source and reward in accepting who we are, what we can do with the time God has gifted, and living in a world where “attitude is contagious,” of course, in the most positive way possible. Again, we have yet another opportunity to reflect on life.
Thanks, Matt! I’ll close with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
We are only human. It’s a comment often made about certain situations we find ourselves in. Reading this story brings to mind not only that our Father in heaven sees us, in all that we do, and in all that we are, but in all our “humanness”.
The fact that Jerry’s father was steadfast in his support of his son and the team, and all came to know of his dedication; yet it was not known that he was blind. And then there is Jerry’s coach, who knew of this young man’s abilities, his determination shown by never missing a practice, his skills evidenced by winning a scholarship; and yet he is afraid to even look upon the first toss. We, as humans, often miss important details in life that would otherwise help us make wise decisions, garner greater understanding, and foster lasting compassion and love for one another. But then, as they say, we are only human.
So we need something else. We need our Father in heaven who sees all and most assuredly knows, we are human. Imagine that! Our Father in heaven knows us so well. Knows our flaws, our ups and downs, our greatness and failures, and yes, even our secrets. And yet He still wants us to be with Him in heaven!
Welcome back to these pages, David, and thank you for your thoughts. It had not occurred to me and thus far to our readership what you so brilliantly pointed out for us: the blindness of the two main characters, Jerry’s father and his coach. You insightfully shed light on the physical blindness of Jerry’s dad juxtaposed with the doubt (blindness) on the part of the coach helped deepen the meaning of the story for me and for our readers. Clearly, we all need to depend on the light of faith to get us through this valley of tears and not miss a single moment. Your reflection also reminds us that we will only have complete and unhampered clarity upon our arrival in Heaven. You also have called our attention to the last phrase of “The Longest Drive: “We simply cannot afford to miss a moment to cry, to forgive, to sing out loud in praise of what the Lord Jesus has done for us even in the most dark and desolate of moments because it is precisely in these human passages of time and space that we come to discover the beauty that has made us His sons and daughters whom He loves eternally.” Read you next time!
Beautiful story! In the eyes of God we are all unique. We are given gifts to share, to build and to conquer for the kingdom of the Father. Loved the relationship Jerry had with his Father. Especially that his father was blind and now he could see. We too must stay close to our Father God. It is with our gift of Faith we must work hard and must trust through our blindness to keep our focus on the Father no matter what difficulties we might endure for in the end we conquer the greatest prize which is Heaven and will see Our biggest fan. Our Father who Loves us so much❤️
Thank you for sharing , God Bless!
Thank you very much, Denice, for your thoughts on our most recent post, “The Longest Drive.” I particularly liked the perspective of the uniqueness of each and every one of us in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. It was also eye-opening to read your take on the blindness aspect of the story. It is so true that we often approach different scenarios in life with a type of blindness that keeps us from seeing the Love of God active in so many ways and on so many levels. Thank you very much for that and for taking your valuable time to share with all of our readers. See you next time and God bless you always!
What a moving story. After finishing the article and to see how God lets us see everything is wonderful. To be blessed to have so much in front of us and have an amazing relationship with our loved ones is truly God’s gift to us all. Safe to say this read has put my mind at ease and will rest well this evening. Thank you and God bless everyone.
This is truly a great gift that you have shared with us, Gabe. We are very glad indeed that the Holy Spirit was so inclined to use the words of this blog post to bring you the ease of mind and peaceful rest ready to face yet another day of life and love as you continue to raise your family. God bless you always!
There is unspeakable comfort in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. – Author: J.I. Packer
What an amazing story that had me in tears! Such a beautiful relationship between a father and his son. No one truly knows the real relationships that someone else has except the two people that are in that relationship. This has definitely been my favorite story.
Our life IS a magnificent life.
Every breath we take is a miracle…not to be taken for granted.
When God created us in our mother’s womb, He had our life already planned out…He also gave us free will to accept His plan or not.
I believe that every thought I have…is God talking to me.
I believe that everything happens for a reason…not for me to question.
Every single second of every single day is a miracle…and I thank God for the smallest miracle of my day.
I thank Him every morning when I open my eyes…because He has given me another chance to do His Will.
I know my Father sees me, hears me and is always with me…and I know He loves me eternally.
At the end of my time I pray that I have competed well, that I have finished the race and that I have kept my faith…because I do long to see Him!!
Thank you for another amazing story.
God bless you!
We are all so glad that you enjoyed this particular rendition of this heart-warming story that reveals the truth of the depth of love between souls that are committed and embody the love of the Father for each and every one of us. I particularly loved your insights when you wrote, “I believe that every thought I have…is God talking to me.
I believe that everything happens for a reason…not for me to question.” No truer words could be written, Julie. For all of us, now, comes the proverbial moment of truth as to whether or not we are going to live life with the eyes of faith or a mind of complete and raw skepticism. What is true, whether or not we decide to accept it, is that God is always ready to hear us and respond. It is the kind of Father we have who sees everything and loves everyone.
“I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love,
even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God,
even when He is silent.
I believe through any trial,
there is always a way
But sometimes in this suffering
and hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter,
to know someone’s there
But a voice rises within me, saying hold on
my child, I’ll give you strength,
I’ll give you hope. Just stay a little while.
I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love
even when there’s no one there
But I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way.
May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace….”
― Unknown (written during WW2, on the wall of a cellar, by a Jew in the Cologne concentration camp)
My first thought after reading this beautiful story was of Jesus telling Thomas he believed because he has seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Jerry’s father did not require vision to believe in his son. He did not require vision to virtuously support his son as a loving devoted father. I was also reminded of Saint Lucy because vision is not only through our eyes. We also have the vision of our mind. Under the loving watch of our Heavenly Father the love of Jerry’s earthly father manifested in faith.
Welcome back, Dr. Montez, and thank you very much for your most recent contribution to these pages. I certainly appreciated the reference to the Apostle Thomas about belief based on “seeing.” Thomas often gets a “bum rap” for his initial doubting approach to the mystery of the Resurrection, but unlike all of us, he at that point did not have access to the Holy Spirit given in over-abundance a the Pentecost Moment, imparting to us, as you so accurately wrote, the vision of our mind. And thank you for the St. Lucy reference as well. Great insights found for all of us for sure! Our Italian brothers and sisters implore her intercession not only for inner and outward sight but also for comfort in this journey on the sea of life. Here is the closing snippet of the famous, “Santa Lucia,” translated in English:
On the sea glitters the silver star
Gentle the waves, favorable the winds.
On the sea glitters the silver star
Gentle the waves, favorable the winds.
Come into my nimble little boat,
Saint Lucy! Saint Lucy!
Come into my nimble little boat,
Saint Lucy! Saint Lucy!
God bless you always, Tony.
“Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.”
– Walt Whitman, ‘On the Beach at Night’
This poem came to mind reading this article because of the lines between. We are those who are on the outside, looking in, as a bird observing a family at the dinner table. In the article, Jerry is quietly floating through life after the death of his father, until that first catch of the game, when a powerful radiance unearthed within him. We see the result of his grief and love and gratitude play out all at once; I couldn’t help but pause on Jerry’s face while the ball was in the air. I wondered, “What is he saying to you right now?”
Jerry’s relationship with his father reminds me of my dad and his own father. My dad and grandpa were extremely close since the day my dad was born. He told us about all the times he and my dad would go on road trips together back in California. My grandpa was a cheerful, happy man. He and my dad would watch football games every Sunday and work on cars as often as they could. He would often visit us, wearing his big aviator glasses and a Dallas Cowboys cap and always with a big smile. When my dad finally bought his dream home, my grandpa would say, “Mijo, you done good. Proud of you, mijo,” every, single time. My dad was a kid again when grandpa would come around. I loved to see it…
About four years ago, my grandpa passed away from cancer three months after he was diagnosed. My dad was torn. I would often find him watching Sunday football games on mute, or standing on the patio in the spot where my grandpa used to overlook the bay. We’d never follow him when he stepped away after we’d reminisce on memories of grandpa; we knew he needed some alone time. But after those moments he would have to himself, he’d have an energy and drive within him that made him seem as if he was a teenager again. He had such a spark and a glow, but we knew he had been crying; tear drops still visible on his t shirts.
One night, when I found him sitting alone on the patio, I wondered, “What is grandpa saying to you?” So I decided to ask him. I sat in the chair next to my dad. We sat in silence for some time and he patted my wrist before taking my hand. Before I could ask him anything, he said in a trembling voice, “Mama, you done good with your life. I’m proud of you.” He gave my hand a quick squeeze before letting go. I lowered my head and tears ran down my face, immediately. We sat in silence for a long time after, taking in the beauty of the night sky over the bay.
I believe that Jerry’s father was speaking to his heart that night on the football field; telling him how bright the stars are, how green the field is, how grown his son looks now. A father-son relationship is truly a pure, and remarkable thing to have. And when the love and faith within it are strong and concrete, the relationship continues long after life on Earth.
What a beautiful article.
Thank you for sharing.
Once again, Kristen, our hearts go out to you in gratitude for taking the obviously devoted time and effort to respond to our latest offering, “The Longest Drive.” What you have brought to the author (me) and to many of our online readers is yet another take and perspective on the varied levels of meaning that we find when the Spirit is allowed to work in our lives. I know with sure confidence that we all benefit from the linking of the messages of the Inspirational Blog with the events and currents of your own life which have drawn others to re-read the post with the hopes of gleaning some other hidden morsel of truth and wisdom. God bless you always for your heartfelt words and contributions to this outreach. Read you next time!