Another Angle: Stoppin’ the hoppin’

Another Angle: Stoppin’ the hoppin’

Sometimes, God speaks to us in funny ways.

Or perhaps, we just take funny things and think God is speaking to us.

Like that girl in class that just so happens to be wearing the same colored shirt as you. Yeah, that must mean God wants you to be together. After all, you prayed for it. And sure, you knew her favorite color was navy blue, but isn’t that besides the point?

Well, that’s what happened last Sunday at church—not the girl-in-navy-blue thing, I stopped praying prayers like that a year ago. Just the concept. You see, I believe God “spoke” to me last Sunday.

And this is what happened…

First off, I ashamedly admit to you that…sigh, I’m a church hopper. I think I’ve even begun to grow a pouch and a pair of hind legs.

I just moved to a new town, and I’ve been struggling to find a church for quite some time. But this past Sunday was different. I could tell right when I hopped into the sanctuary decked out in my Tigger gear. It just had a different vibe.

(Yes, I just spent 10 minutes looking up worthless facts about Tigger, like that incredibly annoying song he sings, or the fact that his birthday is October of 1928. By the way, if my editor hasn’t trashed this column by now, it’s because he’s already taken the pistol out of the top drawer in his desk.)

Anyway, my friend, Bryce Johnson, and I, entered the sanctuary and took a seat. The service started like any other service. Some music. Some announcements. That awkward time where you shake the hands of those around you and try not to make eye contact with anyone. Oh. Look. My shoe is untied. Better tie it.

That’s when God delivered his first “sign” to me that I had found a church home. During the next song, Webb Simpson walked in. And not just that, but he and his wife sat four rows in front of me. Yes, the Webb Simpson. The Deutsche Bank champion a week ago. The Wyndham winner three weeks ago. Quite possibly the hottest name in golf right now…and I was close enough to hit him with a paper wad.

“I think God is leading me here,” I thought to myself.

Throughout praise and worship, I found myself closing my eyes more than usual. That’s because every time I opened them, my eyes, like magnets, were drawn to the back of his beautiful blonde head.

“Man, I want to be him,” I thought to myself.

(Close my eyes.)

“You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God, you don’t grow faint” (open my eyes)…but I think I’m about to faint because the 15th best player in the world is literally feet away from me.

When we sat down for a sermon on the book of Malachi, God continued to feed me signs (at least some would convince themselves of that). The minister started talking about getting recruited for North Carolina’s legendary coach Dean Smith.

“Where am I?” I thought.

The minister used the analogy that even though he wasn’t a great basketball player, Dean Smith still wanted him. In the same way, we’re completely unworthy of being recruited by God, but for some reason He has chosen to first love us.

“Man, with sports analogies like this for Old Testament books, I could do a year-long study on Leviticus.”

As the minister closed out his sermon, God gave me my third sign. After all, you know it’s from God if he does it in sets of threes or sevens. That’s why football is on Sundays.

“Anyone called the Blue Devils,” the minister said, “cannot possibly be under the grace of God.”

And then the congregation clapped enthusiastically.

There wasn’t even an invitation, but I almost went up front right then and there. At the very least, I wanted to throw my hands in the air like a Pentecostal and cry out, “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!”

This was my place. If God had made it any more clear, He’d have to open the sky and send down a dove like Jesus’ baptism.

Webb Simpson. Sports analogies. Duke haters. Church mixed with sports. This was sports ministry at its finest.

See ya next Sunday.

By Stephen Copeland
Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine. His column tackles sports and faith from another angle, whether it’s humorous, personal or controversial. Follow him on Twitter-@steve_copeland or email him at stephen.copeland@sportsspectrum.com.