James 4:14 “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
What chilling viewing it was watching the news on Tuesday night. Footage of a team, having won a semi-final. They were dancing, cheering, spraying each other with water, ecstatic that they had reached the final of the Copa Sudamerica. These images were followed by a photo of the whole team, standing at the foot of the steps to board a plane, on their way to the final. And after that, the pictures of the crash, followed by another picture of the empty locker-room, only inhabited by those injured or suspended, and unable to travel. The football world stood still.
It really got me thinking about those individual lives. Most of them young men, in the prime of fitness, at the foot of the ladder of their ambitions. Each of them sons, fathers, husbands. They had so much to offer the world. Each of them now gone.
James reminds us in his epistle, that life is a mist. That you can be here one moment, and gone the next. As frank as this blog has started, it should be a challenge to us, rather than to scare us. I hope I haven’t written insensitively, and please forgive me if I have.
Why is the tradgey of the Chapecoenese football team a challenge to us personally though? For me, it is a challenge about how I spend the days of my life. How I use my fitness. How I use my talents and my gifts. How I am able to personally impact the world and the people I meet each day.
Much of my working week, currently, is speaking to young men and women, on the first steps of their journey of life. And while they are young and inexperienced, it would also be fair to say that they (at times) are making some poor choices. Perhaps they have an apathy to life, perhaps they have a behavioural issue, some kick against authority, others have no real interest in succeeding. All of these things break my heart. A young person, with the world at their feet, with no desire to meet their potential or succeed.
The opportunity I have, as a sports minister, is to use my God-given health, fitness and (limited) talent, to meet these kids on their terms, and impact their lives, even if it’s just kicking a ball around with them and showing them that I care.
Each of us has potential. Each of us has a gift. Each of us can be successful even in the smallest of tasks (and it is often the smallest of tasks which are the most vital). Some of our young people don’t believe in themselves, and if our gift is to encourage, but we fail to encourage that young person, then we’ve wasted our potential and wasted our gift. If you have a gift in sport, or dance, or singing, or art, and you can connect with a disaffected young person, but hide your gift, then you have wasted an opportunity, both for yourself, and that young person.
The challenge to you, the reader, is that you are alive. In this moment right now, you could use your gift to impact the world. Don’t waste your gift. Don’t waste your life.