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Why Do Athletes Hold Up Four Fingers?

After a long day, a full day, you probably find yourself tired, out of energy, and ready for a good night’s sleep. And the older we become, while our minds tell us “yes” our bodies often say “no.” Not only do our daily routines wear us out, we also at times face life situations that use up all our energy. It could be those three teenage kids in your household or caring for an aging parent. Or it could be that you are facing cancer. Maybe the pile of past due bills just keeps piling up.

I think back to my football playing days. In the midst of preseason camp and near the end of most seasons, when my body was bruised and battered, there was times when I just wanted to quit. Even the most finely tuned athletes get to a point where the journey seems all uphill.

If you watch football, you have seen players hold up four fingers at the end of the third quarter, indicating “the fourth quarter is ours.” The legendary University of Alabama football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, started this long before anyone heard about it. Coach Bryant, known for his extremely hard practices, wanted his team to be better conditioned and better prepared than their opponents. Near the end of practice, he would raise four fingers, telling his players that their top notch conditioning would help them in the end of games, when the opposing team was worn down. In fact, one of The Bear’s best known quotes is this – “I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game.”

You have been there, right? That moment your body is faint and your spirit is weary. It could be a sudden unexpected event or maybe just week after week of grinding that has worn you down. There are any number of ways we can find rest, many of which are healthy and beneficial ways to re-charge. But whatever you do to find rest, do you agree, it just does not last. Tomorrow is another day, full of energy-draining events and activities.

It is easy to get worn down, both physically and emotionally. God promises that if we trust in Him, he will give us the rest and rejuvenation we need, day after day. Here is what we find in Isaiah 40:29-31 – “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.” (NLT)

So today, trust in the Lord, and raise four fingers, telling the world (and reminding yourself) that because of Jesus you have what you need to keep on keeping on!

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina


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