Last night I had the privilege of listening to sports legend Rocky Bleier. Because I grew up as a kid in Central Pennsylvania in the 1970s, I felt compelled to hear Rocky speak.
The lackluster Steelers had been at the bottom of the barrel for the preceding 40 years of professional football, but in the 70s they were finally coming into their own and becoming the dominant powerhouse team in the NFL. Rocky was part of the backfield trio of players—Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Rocky Bleier—who won 4 Superbowls that decade.
What impressed me last evening had little to do with football. What was striking was how this man, now in his seventh decade, displayed so much exuberance for life. Yes, we heard stories of gridiron challenges, and they were great. But what quickly became apparent was that his life wasn’t just about football and reliving the glory days. That’s one aspect of his story, but not the whole story, and certainly not the main part of his story.
The word that I never expected to hear as the theme of his talk was “hope.” Rocky said, “That’s what football is all about . . . hope.” Hope for a good game, no injuries and, yes, for a win. Hope to do better in the next game. Hope to make the playoffs. Hope to win a Superbowl some day. For players and fans alike, it’s all about hope.
I’d never thought about it that way. And that reminded me of Isaiah’s words about hope: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV).
We all need hope. We can’t live without it. Hope is as essential as the air we breath, especially when we feel beaten up by life, are weary of living, and catch ourselves just stumbling along trying to survive.
But that also raises a few questions: Where’s our hope? What are we hoping for? Or, even more penetrating, who is our hope in? Is my hope in me? You? Or in Someone bigger who can make what we hope for a reality? I’m banking on the latter. How about you?
Where’s your hope? Let me hear from you.