I love hockey. I have loved hockey for a long time. Many people know this and ask me how I am coping with the lockout and no Blue Jacket games to go to. I tell them that it is no big deal but on the inside I want to tell them that the deal is much bigger than anyone could imagine. Not because I am missing hockey games but for very different reasons.
I vaguely remember attending my first hockey game, a Columbus Owl’s game, with my father in the 70’s. It was not until college when I made a new friend from Wisconsin that I really started to pay attention to hockey regularly. When I went to my first Columbus Chill game I was hooked.
In the last 22 years I have averaged attending or playing in about 40 games a year. It is safe to say that I have been to 1000 games, give or take, over 22 years. I have attended games at Nationwide Arena, the Ohio State Fairgrounds, the OSU ice rink, the Schott, the Chiller Easton, Dublin, and North, roller hockey games in different places around town and even the convention center when Columbus had a pro roller hockey team. I have been to games in Cincinnati (US Bank Arena and The Garden), Dayton (Hara Arena and
the Nutter Center), and Troy, Ohio. I have had glass seats in old Maple Leaf Gardens. I have attended games in Nashville, Pittsburg, Milwaukee, Dallas and Madison, WI. I have attended the NCAA Frozen Four games and championship. I cannot name all the teams I have seen play.
I have been to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto twice. I have attended the NHL draft. I have sat in the stands during training camp and during prospect camp to watch drills. I have seen great players play including Mario, Gretzy, Messier, Roy, Nash, Forsberg, Jagr, Brouder, Hull, Sakic.
While playing hockey I tore my left ACL and injured a disk in my back which now prohibits me from lifting more than 40 lbs.
When the Blue Jackets were assigning dates to choose seats for season ticket holders, I was assigned one of the first days, which happened to be the day my wife was having her gall bladder removed. I took her to the hospital, got her checked in, and then went downtown with my young daughter in her stroller, to select our seats! I made it back to the hospital just as my wife was getting into her hospital room after surgery. My wife recovered well.
As my close friends know, I love hockey! It is part of who I am.
Now to explain the something much bigger. In the winter of 2012 I was listening to “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson while driving back from meetings in Cincinnati. The book was talking about how we do not pray for big dreams. I was thinking about my prayer life and I felt a physical jolt. It felt like someone grabbed my heart in my chest, while simultaneously a very focused thought was clear in my mind, “Give up your hockey season tickets”. The thought shocked me. It was not my own thought but it was like someone was actually telling me. Like a command.
God is such a personal God. He knows how much hockey is a part of my life and how this command is so huge for me. For someone else, this would not matter. Others might see this as trivial.
I wrestled with this the rest of the day and the next day, and the next. As I struggled I thought, “God, I have the best seats in the arena! I give some of my tickets away and take my friends, and it is a great family time with my daughters and wife.”
During the last six games of the 2011-2012 season I walked a ring around Nationwide Arena at intermission, praying for direction. I told my family and friends of my struggle so they could pray with me. Finally, I had to agree the thought came from God and I would have to obey. I have said this phrase over and over in my head, “I trust that God’s plan is better than my plan.” This is about me obeying God. And, if I am to obey him, then I need to obey him fully and not just partially. God knows me and my heart so, for whatever reason God has, I obeyed and decided to fast from going to any hockey games in the 2012/2013 season.
Now, the biggest part of all. God asked me to give something up even though I did not fully understand why. I bought the season ticket with the plan to give the seats away to churches and charity for their use for fundraisers. Up until recently I thought that the season would not be played because of the labor disagreement. Now it appears the NHL will play a shortened season and I will give my tickets away.
In April 2013 one year will have passed. I realize that a hockey fast may not mean much to you. What it has done for me, and I hope it continues to do, is help me focus more fully on God. Isn’t that what a fast is supposed to do?
Keep your stick on the ice!