With the World Series near, football in full swing, and basketball and hockey seasons just kicking off, sports certainly is in the forefront.
Use the reference of sports to remind your students to “get in the game” of life, to always do their best, and of the lesson that hard work pays off in whatever life course they chose for themselves.
“Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator” (CCC, 302). Instead, the universe, including each person, is created by God “in a state of journeying” toward an ultimate perfection that hasn’t yet been reached. The ways that God guides his creation toward perfection is known as divine providence.
It is comforting to know that God loves and cares for us so much that he has a special plan for our lives and guides us to it. As the book of Proverbs teaches:
Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
but it is the decision of the Lord that endures. (Prv 19:21)
The Fathers of the Church, in particular Gregory of Nicaea, spoke of the soul’s journey toward Christ and heavenly perfection as something in which we must consistently engage.
They referred to this process as epektasis—an unending “straining forward,” as St. Paul calls it in the Letter to the Philippians:
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13)
Epektasis is going forward, exercising spiritual muscles, reaching out to God and others, and straining with hope. Epektasis begins in this life and extends to the next, for eternity. Thus, even eternal life is part of—not the end of—our journey.
Coach Lou Holtz offered a simple reminder to those who want to “get in the game.” He shares an acronym W.I.N.—What’s Important Now. It goes like this:
It’s great to have big dreams. But the way to make your dreams come true is through a series of smaller daily choices. This is where the W.I.N. formula—”What’s Important Now”—can help.
You sure you want to be an All American? Then ask yourself twenty-five times a day “what’s important now.”
You wake up in the morning—”what’s important now?” Get out of bed.
You’re out of bed—”what’s important now?” Eat breakfast. You need your strength.
What’s important now? Go to class.
What’s important now? Sit in the front row. Be prepared.
When you’re in the weight room—”what’s important now?” It’s to get stronger. Not because somebody’s looking. But because you know you’ve got to get stronger.
When you’re out Saturday night and there’s alcohol, and sex, and drugs—”what’s important now?” If your dream is to be an All American in whatever field you’ve chosen, then “what’s important now” is to avoid those situations.
You take any dream you want to reach and ask yourself twenty-five times a day “what’s important now?” and you’ll know exactly what you have to do to achieve it. (A Teen’s Game Plan for Life)
- Write tens answers to the question “What’s important now?” related to your daily life for the coming semester. For example:
“What’s important now?” (To make the basketball team.)
“What’s important now?” (To earn enough money to buy car insurance.)
- When completed, go back over your list and make notes about kinds of things you will need to do to achieve what you deem to be important.
Call on volunteers to share sample responses from their list.